"The unsearchable wisdom of God"


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"The unsearchable wisdom of God" a study of providence in Richardson's Pamela
Series Title:
University of Florida monographs
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vii, 130 p. : ; 23 cm.
Fortuna, James Louis, 1943-
University Presses of Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Providence and government of God in literature   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Bibliography: p. 115-123.
Statement of Responsibility:
James Louis Fortuna, Jr.
General Note:
"A University of Florida book."
General Note:
Includes index.

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 000095187
oclc - 06277775
notis - AAL0617
lccn - 80014919
isbn - 0813006767 :
lcc - PR3664.P4 F6
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Full Text





@Copyright by
James Louis Fortuna, Jr.


During such dark times it is well to note the presence of real humans.

There is no way to acknowledge fully my debt to them; it ranges from spiri-

tual support to a much needed swift kick. The following is simply an im-

perfect attempt to say thank you. For his invaluable help in making me

aware of the complexities of Providence, I wish to thank Professor Richard

H. Hiers. For his timely criticism of the organization of this disser-

tation and his stimulating criticism of its thesis, I wish to make grate-

ful acknowledgment to Professor Melvyn New. For introducing me in my

sophomore year to the study of English literature, I wish to thank Profes-

sor Ward Hellstrom. For his example, his support, his uncompromising

critical standards, and his generally successful attempt to toughen my

skin, I especially wish to thank my supervisor and "Chief", Professor

Aubrey L. Williams. My debt to people outside the profession is great,

but I first would like to thank my parents for their love and for giving

me the opportunity to attend college. My mother-in-law "Pam" Johnson, who

saw the struggle firsthand, knows already my deep gratitude and love. I

would like to make special mention of the friendship and support of Willis

and Anna Bodine, friends who have become family. To Ed and Pat Millet,

who listened and who helped me keep my sense of humor. I also wish to

thank the Reverend Allen Laymon of the First Baptist Church, North Wilkes-

boro, North Carolina, for his loyalty, concern, and for providing me with a

place to type the third draft of this dissertation. Finally, to Ann

Compton, mountain flower, and all she means, this dissertation is dedicated.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................. ii

ABSTRACT ...................... ............................... iv

CHAPTER ONE: "Pamela and the Critics" .................... 1-18

Notes .......................*............... 19-23

CHAPTER TWO: "The Christian Canon of Richardson" .......... 24-44

Notes ........................................ 45-49

CHAPTER THREE: "Richardson and Christian Providence" ........ 50-61

Notes ................................. ...... 62-65

CHAPTER FOUR: "To avoid the Tempter": The Bedfordshire
section of Pamela ........................... 66-77

Notes ........................................ 78-79

CHAPTER FIVE: "The unsearchable Wisdom of God": The Ways
of Providence and the Reward of Virtue ....... 80-100

Notes .... ......................... ......... 101-102

CHAPTER SIX: "What God has done": The final theme of
Pamela ....................................... 103-105

Notes ..... ................... .......... .... 106

A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................... 107-120

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...................... ................ 121


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



James Louis Fortuna, Jr.

June, 1973

Chairman: Aubrey L. Williams
Major Department: English

Samuel Richardson's Pamela, in both character portrayal and plot con-

struction, mirrors a world order in which the active presence of God and

His Providence was viewed as essential for the continuation of all human

existence. A correct understanding of the many references to Providence

in Richardson is necessary to any meaningful interpretation of Pamela,

its significance in eighteenth-century literature, and the "ethos" of

which it was a part. That within Pamela specifically, this "ethos" is a

Christian one, is clearly indicated in the sub-title, "Virtue Rewarded,"

which focuses immediately upon the problem of "Poetical Justice" and the

existence of an omnipotent God. This problem is not unique to the

Eighteenth Century, but is to be found in writers dating from the earliest

epochs of Christian polemics, and, as Thomas Rymer pointed out in the

Seventeenth Century, the presence of a Poetical Justice operating in

literature was but a temporal manifestation of the eternal justice of God,

a justice revealed through a "special" Providence which punished evil and

rewarded the good, and a justice without which nothing of any worth could


Within such a world order, it was believed that man frequently under-

went various "trials" for purposes of strengthening his faith or revealing

to him the necessity for right action and humility. Thus, the "testing"

of Pamela, coupled with the final reward of her virtue and beginning

reformation of her tempter, point to the presence of a traditional Chris-

tian theme in Richardson's first novel. Moreover, to view Richardson as

indeed writing out of such a tradition helps to clarify much of his

achievement in Pamela and establishes a more satisfying starting point for

the critical analysis of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison.


Pamela and the Critics

In the "Preface" to Sir Charles Grandison, Samuel Richardson, in the

guise of "Editor of the following Letters," states of his first novel,

Pamela,1 that it "exhibited the Beauty and Superiority of Virtue in an

innocent and unpolished Mind, with the Reward which often, even in this

Life, a protecting Providence bestows on Goodness. A young Woman of low

Degree, relating to her honest Parents the severe Trials she met with

from a Master who ought to have been the Protector, not the Assailer, of

her Honour, shews the Character of a Libertine in its truly contemptible

Light. This Libertine, however, from the Foundation of good Principles

laid in his early Years by an excellent Mother; by his Passion for a vir-

tuous young Woman; and by her amiable Example, and unwearied Patience,

when she became his Wife; is, after a length of Time, perfectly reclaimed."2

Although attached to his last novel, this Preface emphasizes some of the

major concerns of Richardson's work, and it is my contention that the major

terms in this passage, "Virtue," "Reward," "a protecting Providence,"

"severe Trials," a "Libertine reclaimed," are not casual items of diction

but rather point to the fundamental design of Richardson's first novel.

This design in some sense derives from a "fictive mirroring" of what was

considered to be the world order of his day. In many ways, it is almost

impossible to appreciate fully Richardson's novels apart from this gener-

ally accepted world order, which, as I hope to show in the following

chapters, was Christian, created by an omnipotent God, sustained through a



Providence both "general" and "particular," and in which the "reward" of

suffering "virtue" and the "punishment" of "vice" were not the tenets of

a sequestered faith, but things believed actually to occur in the world.

That Richardson the man was a Christian is readily admitted,3 but the

significance of the Christian language and situation, in particular the

importance of "Providence" within his novels, is still the cause of much

critical controversy. Most critics have stressed the superiority of

Clarissa as a novel, Richardson's artistic innovations or debt to the

contemporary theater,5 his proto-Freudian characterizations;6 even those

few who have investigated the Christian elements in his novels have

either misunderstood them or have not adequately supported their argu-

ments.7 What is needed is a revaluation of Richardson's thematic concerns,

and as a start, it will be helpful to review pertinent critical appraisals

of Pamela.

It is not to my purpose to give a running survey or "box-score" of

the more than two centuries of Richardson criticism. It is apparent that

his literary reputation has never stood as high as it did during his own

lifetime. The "raptures" of his female correspondents, the praise of such

men as Denis Diderot, the Abbe Prevost, Samuel Johnson, Colley Cibber,

Aaron Hill, Edward Young, Alexander Pope and others, is amply documented

in the biographies and collections of correspondence listed in my biblio-

graphy. Even the attacks, Shamela and the multitude of "anti-Pamela"

literature, have been listed and discussed many times.8 My bibliography

contains the material used in preparing this study, and can serve as a

beginning for anyone interested in assessing the manifold critical ap-

proaches to Richardson, or in amassing a scholarly consensus regarding his

literary reputation. In place of the "survey" approach, the critics


discussed in the following pages were selected for being both recent and

representative of the attention paid to the Christian elements in Pamela.

Thus, while most present-day scholars would not agree with Joseph Wood

Krutch's statement that Pamela herself is "so devoid of any delicacy of

feeling as to be inevitably indecent,9 or with F.S. Boas that the "story

is in itself somewhat sordid and incredible, not seemingly suitable to be

spun out through two volumes,"10 there nevertheless has persisted in cri-

tical appraisals of Pamela a curious ambivalence toward the Christian

elements of her story, and toward a "Virtue Rewarded" in particular.

Throughout the twentieth century, with a few notable exceptions, critics

have been prone to lament a so-called "moralizing" which somehow hinders

Richardson from being taken seriously in his first novel. Even in those

critics who attempt to deal with the Christian framework of the novels,

however, there is evident what seems to me to be a mistaken emphasis.

Roger Sharrock, in "Richardson's Pamela: The Gospel and the Novel,"

essentially argues that Pamela is "Christian" and "realistic" in the sense

that the Gospels, both in their "method of presentation" and subject

matter, "deal...with common life, the lives of soldiers, harlots and tax

collectors, and the sufferings of the sick."11 To Sharrock, this influ-

ence of the Gospels on western civilization, an influence which operated

against "the classical principle of noble themes and lofty style" (71),

ultimately made it possible for lower-class characters to be taken ser-

iously in literature, a phenomenon which culminated in the eighteenth-

century novel in general and the works of Samuel Richardson in particular.12

That Pamela so zealously defends her "chastity" (for Sharrock not the

"letter of physical purity" but rather "a brave insistence on her indivi-

dual rights, the prerogative of all children of God", (69)) establishes her


as a prime literary example of "the new aristocracy," filled not with the

epic heroes of classical literature, but rather with "ordinary men and

women" who "feel that their meanest everyday actions may be endowed with

nobility and significance" (67); it is an "aristocracy" whose literary

counterparts stand in opposition to the "old classical, hierarchical

aesthetic" which Sharrock sees prevailing in the Middle Ages and

Renaissance (69).

While Sharrock's suggestion that the Christian insistence upon the

intrinsic worth of each person is pertinent to an understanding of Pamela,

his evidence and terminology tend to confuse the issue in various ways.

After offering a survey of the Medieval and Renaissance literary prac-

titioners of a Gospel-oriented sermo humilis and their conflict with a

classically-oriented sermo sublimis (70),13 he turns to the influences of

the "social and religious traditions immediately available to Richardson

in the eighteenth century" and concludes them to be "Puritan and middle-

class" (72). Seeing a "line of development running from Bunyan's Life

and Death of Mr. Badman through Defoe to Richardson", Sharrock first

emphasizes that Pamela was most influenced by a tradition of "bourgeois

Puritanism," and then states that:

it is only fair to admit that the value of Richardson's
work is severely qualified by the more immediate bour-
geois tradition governing his attitude to the story.
When he forgets his exemplary moral attitude, then all
is well: he is possessed by the myth he has created.
It is the idea in the sub-title, "Virtue Rewarded," that
stands out to offend the modern reader, as it offended
Fielding (72).

After mentioning the influence on Pamela of "conduct books like Bunyan's

Christian Behavior and its successors", and the "manuals of letter-

writing," Sharrock then states that from "these sources Richardson in-

herited the Puritan moral idea in its decadence. Calvinism had always

inculcated that the Lord would reward his saints, but now the reward takes

the form of vigorous social aspiration" (72). Further, Sharrock posits

the view that although the Lady Davers scene shows Pamela as an eighteenth-

century example of the Christian "new aristocracy," as having intrinsic

worth equal to that of a well-born lady, there "is in fact a considerable

moral ambiguity here: on the surface Richardson seems to be saying that

virtue is ennobling in any walk of life; underneath it looks more like a

complacent claim of 'I'm as good as you are', with the acceptance of

social climbing as a mark of moral achievement" (73).

This evaluation of the Lady Davers scene, it seems to me, ignores the

fact that most of Pamela's retorts are delivered in the face of excessive

provocation, even to the point of "slaps" and the near drawing of a sword.

It also fails to speak to the problem of how one asserts one's "prerog-

ative" as an important creature of God, as a member of the "new aristo-

cracy," without at least actively defending that "prerogative" from the

assaults of either the lustful or the haughty. Despite his provocative

insight into Pamela as a work which both insists upon the importance of

each human life and owes its greatest accomplishments to the "Christian

recognition of individual personality" (74), he appears baffled by the

concept of the "reward" of "virtue," and even seems to deny his own

thesis by finding "moral ambiguity" in the actions of a Pamela who

staunchly defends her new status and intrinsic worth. In many ways,

Sharrock's article demonstrates that it is easier to talk of various

techniques such as the use of "journal narrative," or similarities be-

tween Gospel parables and the eighteenth-century novel, or Medieval and

Renaissance forerunners, than it is to evaluate the larger implications

religious language and connotation hold for the novel in general and


Pamela in particular. Whether through his constant interchanging of the

terms "Christian," "Puritan," and "Calvinist," or by ignoring the context

of a particular scene, Sharrock, like many modern critics dealing with

the religious elements in Pamela, tends to confuse rather than illumin-

ate the text. I think that a blind acceptance of the "religious tags"

offered by previous critics has created a fertile ground for such confus-

ion. Sharrock himself, accordingly, trustingly accepts the view that

Richardson's first novel grew out of a "Puritan" or "Calvinist" tradi-

tion, when a careful reading of the canon reveals that none of the major

characters in the novels appears to be anything but orthodox Anglican,

hardly to be confused with the generally accepted view of "Puritans,"

and that Methodists are referred to as "overdoers" by Lady G. in Sir

Charles Grandison.15 It is difficult to see how Richardson, himself an

orthodox Anglican, can stand for a "decadent Calvinism."

Michael Davitt Bell, in "Pamela's Wedding and the Marriage of the

Lamb," attempts to demonstrate that Richardson produced in his first

novel a "fully-developed stereotype" of "romantic love."16 Agreeing with

Ian Watt that Pamela also marks the "emergence" of an "immensely influ-

ential stereotype of the feminine role", Bell nevertheless differs with

Watt's efforts to trace the source of this "stereotype" to the "rise of

'economic individualism'", and further states that the "marriage crisis",

however much it might explain the "extraordinary popularity of Pamela

once it got written," does nothing to "account for how the novel got

written in the first place" (100).17 Since he views the novel's major

events as "anything but realistic", Bell discounts the possibility that

Richardson "discovered his stereotype in the social situation of his

time" (100). Taking this reasoning a step further, and doubting that the


"language in which the characters speak is copied from real eighteenth-

century middle-class conversation", Bell suggests that the "question of

the source of Richardson's stereotype of romantic love becomes in part a

question of the sources of the language in which Pamela and Squire B.

describe, and engage in, the new love relationship" (100).

Having established the need to examine the language in Pamela, Bell

initially proceeds to underscore certain words in an attempt to trace

their source. Choosing a passage found on page 220 of the Norton Edition,

he highlights such words as "repent," "truly sorry," "judge," and "par-

don," and suggests that they are indicative of what he terms a "strange

theological understructure", which Richardson inherited from the "sermons

and conduct books of his time" (100).18 Despite this acknowledgment of

the source for much of Richardson's language, for Bell a "language of

love," he soon denies that the presence of this "buried theological

'meaning'" has anything to do with "what is going on on the surface"

(102). As proof of this, he asserts that "Richardson frequently employs

theologically charged words" in a highly ambiguous way (103), most no-

ticeably in his use of "Grace" and in his general presentation of Mr. B.

Bell next argues that it "is sometimes...difficult to tell whether

the theological or secular meaning is intended" by Richardson in his use

of certain terms, with the "overall effect" being a subsequent blurring

of the "distinction between religious and secular" (102). Noticing the

numerous occurrences of the term "Grace," Bell indicates that it is fre-

quently impossible to determine which meaning Richardson is insisting

upon in any given context. At one point, he cites Pamela's offering

"assurances" that "she shall have so much grace, as to hate and withstand"
Mr. B.'s "temptations," were he not merely her master but her king,19
Mr. B.'s "temptations," were he not merely her master but her king, as


evidence that, despite the theological association of "grace" with "temp-

tation," what it is really intended to connote in this passage is "good

fortune" (102). At another point, "divine grace" is mentioned and Bell

accords it a full theological meaning. At the time of the wedding, how-

ever, the "tender grace" with which Mr. B. performs his part in the cere-

mony is evidence for Bell that Richardson again has confused the issue by

making the Squire "(formerly the tempter) into an agent of Christian

grace in the marriage of his servant" (103).

Continuing to indicate instances of ambiguity in Richardson's use of

religious language, Bell next discusses the presentation of Mr. B. Not-

ing John Dussinger's theory of Christian "perfectionism,"20 and stating

that "Pamela is not a religious allegory, nor is there in it any submerged

stream of Christian symbolism" (103), Bell asserts that the use of a

vocabulary usually associated with God, in connection with Mr. B., implies

that it is he, rather than Pamela, "whose role, in spite of his lechery,

most nearly resembles that of the Christian deity" (103). For Bell, a

partial result of Mr. B.'s association with the "Christian deity" (al-

though he certainly denies that the Squire is to be taken as a "Christ

figure") is Pamela's frequent failure "to distinguish between the goodness

of her earthly master and that of her divine master" (106). Since he

argues that there takes place throughout Pamela a "fusion of Christian and

romantic" elements (106), a method which consistently applies "religious

terminology to romantic experience" (107), Bell views Pamela's "confusion"

(especially when coupled with the "ambiguity" evident in the use of

"Grace" and other "theologically charged" words) as part of Richardson's

own conscious effort to "not distinguish, throughout the book, between

divine and earthly", presumably for some larger artistic purpose (106).

Bell soon states that the presence of so much religious language in

Pamela does not mean that its effect "depends on the apprehension of the

religious parallel, at least not in any literal sense", but rather that

the "emotional" associations connected with it allowed Richardson "to tap

for his own secular purposes the strongly emotional religious current of

his day" (108). Thus, for Bell, the "meaning" of the novel is not "par-

ticularly religious," and the references to religion found in it merely

serve the function of adding "emotional impact" to an otherwise impro-

bable story.

It is soon evident that the "strongly emotional religious current"

which Richardson was able to "tap" for his "secular purposes" in Pamela

was a byproduct of the "Great Awakening" (108) and the subsequent emer-

gence of "Christ-adoration" (109). Bell therefore posits the interes-

ting yet unsupported thesis that, like the Mariolatry of the medieval

period and its appearance, however thinly disguised, in "the new liter-

ary treatment of sexual relations known as Courtly Love" (110), Pamela

stands as an eighteenth-century example of "another literary version of

sexual relations--the notion of romantic love that has dominated the

English novel since Richardson," a love which arose primarily from "the

eighteenth-century...adoration of Christ" (110). Using George Whitfield

as source for this interpretation, Bell argues that eighteenth-century

adoration of Christ was associated 'with a woman's adoration of her hus-

band" (111), thus (and as Ian Watt also notes) making marriage essential

and causing widespread "anxiety" among women over not only the possi-

bility of spinsterhood but also "of eternal damnation, of external ex-

clusion from the Marriage of the Lamb" (112). For Bell, this "anxiety"

helps to explain both how Pamela came to be written and its phenomenal

success, and he concludes by stating that:

The innocent Pamela-trapped, alone, injured and des-
pairing--has thus an appeal far beyond what her story
itself, improbable and ridiculous as so much of it is,
would seem to warrant. It is no small part of Richard-
son's accomplishment in Pamela that he was able to tap
this vein of anxiety that lay beneath the surface of
eighteenth-century English life by importing religious
terminology, and the basic Christian action of trial
and reward, into the realm of romantic love (112).

Despite Bell's interesting assessment of the "sources" of Richard-

son's "stereotype" of "romantic love" and the language of that love, a

few points are confusing. First, it is difficult to accept a charge of

frequent semantic ambiguity when the evidence used to support such a

charge is often inaccurate or wrenched from context. Bell's suggestion

that Richardson's use of "Grace" indicates a refusal to "distinguish" be-

tween a "religious and secular" meaning throughout Pamela (102) does not

stand up under close scrutiny. The sentence in which Pamela supposedly

offers assurances that she "shall have so much grace as to withstand"

Mr. B.'s "temptations," for Bell a statement equivalent to desiring "good

fortune," and "ambiguous" if given a theological meaning, actually reads:

"But, Mrs. Jervis, I continued, let me tell you, that I hope, if I was

sure he would always be kind to me, and never turn me off at all, that I

shall have so much grace, as to hate and withstand his temptations, were

he not only my master, but my king; and that for the sin's sake."21 That

this statement represents an assurance of any kind by Pamela is doubtful

in the light of her use of the word "hope," a word deleted by Bell. As

to aniy "ambiguity" in Richardson's use of "Grace" here, it also should be

noted of this sentence that in the First Edition Pamela hopes "that God

will give" her "his Grace" in order to withstand the temptations which

surround her, a statement followed on the next page by one in which she


once again hopes that "God would give" her the "Grace" not to give in to

these temptations.22 Although it is partially the task of this study to

examine the implications of Richardson's use of religious language, most

notably his use of "Providence," it should be stated here that of the

more than thirty times where "Grace" appears in Pamela, it is consistent-

ly linked to God and the personal strength granted to man by His "assis-

ting" goodness, a use hardly to be confused with "good fortune." This is

not to say that there is a single meaning for the word "grace." There

are, as Bell notes, also instances where the word is used in a "social"

context. I would not agree with Bell, however, that these instances are

to be lumped with the others and taken as proof of confusion between re-

ligious and secular concepts, primarily because of the clear and consis-

tent distinction which Richardson draws between them. There is, it

seems to me, a crucial difference between hoping for God's "Grace" to

withstand temptation, and carving cake, performing in a wedding ceremony,

or doing things in general "with a Grace, as one may say, where they are

to be done" (Riverside, p. 218).

Secondly, the interesting observation that the language by which

Mr. B. is described and in which he frequently speaks is suggestive of

the "Christian deity," is nevertheless seriously qualified by a failure

to speak to the larger implications arising from such an insight. Bell

appears to see in Mr. B.'s "Godly" attributes an attempt by Richardson to

use religious language and connotation for secular purposes, an "inten-

tion" which he thinks is proven by Pamela's frequent failure "to distin-

guish between the goodness of her earthly master and that of her divine

master" (106). That this is not the case is evident even in the

passages which Bell cites. Noting Pamela's letter, after her marriage,


to Mrs. Jervis, in which she rejoices that she is now "enabled by God's

graciousness," and her "dear master's goodness", to call herself Mr. B.'s

wife, Bell states that there "seems to be no essential difference, at

least in their effect on Pamela, between" the "graciousness" of God and

the "goodness" of her new husband (106). Bell here seems to give a

merely willful misreading of the passage, and any confusion seems his

rather than Pamela's. That Pamela consistently distinguishes between

divine and earthly obligations is apparent from statements made by her

on numerous occasions, most particularly in her last letter where she

characterizes herself and Mr. B. as respectively being able to dispense

"third-hand" and "Second-hand" good, while God only is able to dispense

first-hand blessings and to "HIM, therefore," should be given "all the

Glory" (Riverside, p. 407).

Bell's insight into Mr. B. as a character appearing "God-like" on

numerous occasions, however suspect the conclusions which he draws from

it may be, is nevertheless provocative. He seems satisfied, however,

merely to point this out and use it to demonstrate his thesis of Rich-

ardson's secular adaptation of religious themes. He generally seems

unaware of the larger implications, within a religious context, of Mr.

B.'s actions as "judge" or pardonerr" of one who, throughout the novel,

appears only as a suffering innocent. Whatever similarities there may

be between Mr. B. and discussions of God from the sermon literature or

"conduct books" of the time, they are for Bell difficult to square with

such things as the Squire's lechery and previous promiscuity. Viewing

this difficulty as an insurmountable obstacle to taking the religious

language very seriously in Pamela, he argues a purely secular meaning

for the novel, a meaning dependent upon Richardson's skillful exploita-

tion of contemporary religious thought. If indeed there are passages in

Pamela which imply a relationship between Mr. B. and the "Christian

deity," it seems essential to consider carefully their total implication,

and hopefully attain a more comprehensive reading of the novel than that

offered by claims of "ambiguity" or secular adaptation of religious

themes. I would suggest that these similarities in -language between Mr.

B. and "an angry God" or an "unforgiving...Justice or Father of the Prri-

tan dialogue" (104), coupled with the fact that Pamela refers to him on

one occasion as "Lucifer" in the "Shape" of her "Master" (Riverside,

p. 181), links him, symbolically at least, with a wide range of "dia-

bolical" figures present in both literature and theology, and suggests

he may be a prideful man who has in effect usurped the prerogative of

God, and, as a result, must be taught that God's and not man's will must

be done. Bell's insistence, however, upon the "ambiguity" with which

"theologically charged words" must be taken, tends to make Mr. B. not

only an "unrealistic" character, but also one devoid of any larger sig-

nificance, serving little more than as a motivator of action or partial

cause of "emotional impact" (108).

Briefly, I think it is essentially simplistic to interpret Pamela

as the secular result of an artistic "exploitation" of religious or

psychological "anxieties." Such an interpretation, if offered as

Richardson's major intention, not only narrows the scope of his effort,

but also fails to attack the work on its own terms. An underscoring of

the presence of religious terminology in a novel carries, it seems to me,

the subsequent necessity for specifically assessing, in context, the

total implications of such terminology. Before it is possible to accept

Bell's conclusion that Pamela is a natural result of such things as

"economic fear or fear of old-maidhood" (111), or "terror at the thought

of eternal damnation, or eternal exclusion from the Marriage of the Lamb"

(112), one must be provided with more evidence than he offers in his

article. In general, the major difficulty with Bell, as indeed with

Sharrock and most recent critics, is their failure to take the Christian

elements in Pamela as individual manifestations of a tradition which is

broader and richer than such "tags" as "decadent Calvinism" or "spiritual

anxiety" would seem to indicate.

Gwendolyn B. Needham, in a lengthy article dealing with a reexamin-

ation of the character of Mr. B., states that the I"fatal words Virtue

Rewarded have served too often as a lily-white standard or a red flag to

the critics, who thereupon debate the utilitarian Puritan code of moral-

ity, neglecting the novel itself."23 Viewing Pamela herself as an un-

reliable narrator, Needham sees Richardson struggling throughout the

novel with problems both "moral" and "social."24 For Needham, it is

ultimately "Mr. B.'s inner conflict and its eventual resolution which

Richardson uses to shape the structural pattern of his story and to

determine its climax and conclusion" (447). Expanding on this view, she

suggests that "Pamela, despite ambivalence, temptations, doubt, despair,

never wavers in her heart-and-soul belief in the righteousness of defen-

ding her virtue, and therein lies her strength; her suspense is due to

Mr. B.'s indecision, not to her own. Only when his farewell letter com-

pels the conscious recognition of her love does she experience brief

inner conflict, the resolution of which Richardson also uses to effect

the story's climax" (447). However good this makes Mr. B. look, if one

grants Needham's premise, the actions of Pamela become something less

than believable; almost dissolving into a mute foil to the "struggle"

within Mr. B., Pamela appears to be only a mere, if necessary, decoration

in what is essentially Mr. B.'s novel.

Turning to the religious implications, Needham, apparently attempting

to deal with the presence of so many references to Providence, first dis-

cusses its meaning and finally assesses its manifestations in different

social classes. This section of the article is interesting and should be

cited in full.

From their [Pamela and Mr. B.'s] conflicting values
Richardson draws the novel's basic themes and thereby
ensures their development in close integration with
character and action. The themes show Richardson no ra-
dical reformer but a reflector of middle-class standards
of current Christian morality and contemporary ethical
thought. Overriding all other ideas is the belief that
people should trust in God and his Providence to protect
them and to reward, "in his own time," honesty and inte-
grity. This sentiment unfortunately is shortened in the
subtitle to "Virtue Rewarded" which, in conjunction with
the heroine's name, has led too easily to interpretation
only in its special narrow sense and to its association
solely with Pamela. Subsidiary themes rely on Nature's
Law as well as Divine Law and some echo Pope's Essay on
Man: an individual's evaluation depends on his inner
worth, not on rank or riches; virtue is humble, pride
vain; the more riches a man has, the greater must be his
benevolent actions for social good; marriages should be
based on love. Each man "a link in Nature's chain,"
should perform his allotted duty:

Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.

Unfortunately, as the novel demonstrates, what is honour
and what is shame hold different meanings for the social
classes in general and for Mr. B. and Pamela in particu-
lar, differences which generate error and conflict that
demand change or compromise before reconciliation and
tranquility can be assured (451).

The references to Providence and Pope, while relevant and correct

as far as they go, are somewhat negated, it seems to me, by Needham's

failure to examine the religious implications of the sub-title. Perhaps

because of her view that most misreadings of Pamela are owing to the

"utilitarian Puritan code of morality" supposedly suggested by the sub-

title, she fails to consider the view of the eighteenth century, a view


held by many orthodox Anglican divines, regarding the significance of a

"Virtue Rewarded." Richardson's sub-title is not to be taken casually or

viewed as a "false issue," for the "reward" of virtue was viewed as both

proof of the existence of God and His concern for the welfare of His

creatures, as is evident in the writings of numerous Anglican divines,

particularly in John Wilkins's The Principles and Duties of Natural

Religion, where he asks: "What could be a greater disparagement to divine

Providence, than to permit the Calamities and Sufferings which good Men

undergo in this World, many times upon the account of religion, to pass

unrewarded; and the many Mischiefs and Prophanations, which wicked Men

take the advantage of committing by their Greatness and Prosperity in

this World to go unpunished?"25 Needham's greatest complaint against the

sub-title, however, appears to be that it can be suggestive of a certain

"crassness" which has led readers to the conclusion that "personal" gain

may be derived from the preservation of something which should remain

separate from earthly or bodily concerns. However much a problem this

may be for modern critics, in the terms of the eighteenth century "virtue"

and personal security were not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts.

As John Balguy states: "I think, it plainly appears, that aiming at pri-

vate Welfare is not inconsistent with real Virtue; but when rightly cir-

cumstantiated, productive of it."26

In general, I do not see that Richardson's sub-title leads a reader

to a narrow interpretation of virtue, presumably the one exhibited in

Shamela or in the other "anti-Pamela" works; rather, as I suggested

earlier, it is perhaps the reader who, cut off as he is in our day from

the rich tradition of religious polemic and apologetic literature of the

Renaissance and Eighteenth Century, fails to see beyond the "lily-white

standard" or "red flag" of a "Virtue Rewarded" in this world to the

broader implications of such an event within a Christian world order.

While Needham is right in emphasizing Providence as an important aspect

of the novel's theme, failure to examine it any more than she does implies

that its presence is somewhat less than central to the novel's meaning.

Further evidence that she perhaps does not understand the implications

of the sub-title or of Providence as it appears in Pamela, is her state-

ment that, "Considering the critical debate over the subtitle, 'Virtue

Rewarded,' surprisingly few readers have noted the complete absence in

the novel of its natural corollary (according to popular Christian

belief and to poetic justice)-Vice Punished" (472). While there is

never an insistence by contemporary critics that these two "corollaries"

of poetic justice27 need always exist side by side, even in Pamela I

would offer, as a balance to Needham's view that only virtue is rewarded,

the suffering and death of Mrs. Jewkes,28 the shame of "honest" John

Arnold, and finally the sincere guilt, sorrow, and repentance of Mr. B.

himself. The major problem, it seems to me, with Needham's arguments,

as well as those of Sharrock and Bell, is that they give the reader a

distorted view of the basic theme of Pamela: by concentrating on bits

and pieces of the Christian elements found in Richardson's work, such

critics run the risk of losing sight of the novel's overriding theme.

That this theme is "providential" remains to be demonstrated, but I

think that by correctly understanding how Providence, in many ways the

single most important theological concept and concern of the age, works

in Pamela, all the contingent religious elements can be seen in context

as serving a larger purpose: as proof of the existence of a good and

omnipotent God, as fictive counterparts of the presence of a Divine


Power working in and through man and nature to protect and reward

struggling virtue. Without correctly understanding this larger concern,

no true appraisal of Richardson's achievement as a novelist is possible.


Chapter One

'Unless otherwise indicated, I will be using the Riverside Edition
of Pamela, taken from the First Edition and edited by T.C. Duncan Eaves
and Ben D. Kimpel (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971); hereafter cited in
2Sir Charles Grandison, six vols. (Oxford: Shakespeare Head,
1931), I, viii; hereafter cited in text.

3For a valuable discussion of Richardson's "Christianity" see John
A. Dussinger's "Richardson's 'Christian Vocation,"' Papers in Language
and Literature, 3, 1 (Winter, 1967), 3-19, especially page 18 where he
states that "From the evidence of his whole career as master printer,
editor, compiler, correspondent, and novelist, Richardson's direct involve-
ment with the religious movements of his time appears suggestive, and any
interpretation of his novels from an historical perspective needs to take
into account the impact of these events." Richardson's belief in Chris-
tianity and its appearance in his work was frequently acknowledged in his
own day, as evidenced by Johannes Stinstra's statement relating that a
friend of his had said of Clarissa that "he doubted not, but that if very
many parts of these letters were to be found in the Bible, they would be
pointed out as manifest proofs of divine inspiration." The Correspon-
dence of Samuel Richardson, Ed., Anna Laetitia Barbauld, six vols.
(London: R. Phillips, 1804), I, 242; hereafter referred to as Corres-
pondence. There are numerous references by Richardson himself to his
religious beliefs, such as his statement to Lady Bradshaigh that from his
youth he "was a church-man, who had a profound reverence for the apostles,
St. Paul in particular." Correspondence, VI, 206. Despite admissions of
Richardson's Christianity, however, there still persists a general con-
fusion over such things as his "moral" position and his ties to Deism or
Utilitarianism. Cf. Joseph Texte, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Cosmo-
politan Spirit in Literature, translated by J.W. Matthews (London:
Duckworth, 1899), p. 195; and James R. Foster, History of the Pre-Romantic
Novel in England (New York: MLA Monograph Series, 17, 1949), p. 106.

A great deal of attention has been paid to the Christian elements
in Clarissa. For some interesting appraisals see John A. Dussinger's
"Richardson's Tragic Muse," PQ, XLVI, 1 (1967), 18-33, and his "Con-
science and the Pattern of Christian Perfection in Clarissa," PMLA, LXXXI,
3 (June, 1966), 236-245; Allan Wendt's "Clarissa's Coffin," PQ, XXXIX, 4
(Oct., 1960), 481-495; and Robert M. Schmitz's "Death and Colonel Morden
in Clarissa," The South Atlantic Quarterly, LXIX, 3 (Summer, 1970),

5See Ira Konigsberg, Samuel Richardson and the Dramatic Novel
(Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1968).

6See Morris Golden, Richardson's Characters (Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press, 1963).

An example of this is "Richardson's 'Christian Vocation'" in which
Dussinger, after granting that Richardson "is at pains to demonstrate the
operations of divine grace and the direct intervention of Providence to
reward the virtuous and punish the vicious in this world", goes on to
state that this attempt fails "when Pamela, giddy over the prospect of
wealth and station, suddenly consents to marry one who shortly before
was pictured as little more than a bungling rapist" (p. 11). Dussinger
offers little evidence from the novel as a basis for these assertations,
and further clouds the issue by emphasizing that it is Pamela's "vicar-
ious atonement" for Mr. B.'s sins that ultimately "wins a heartfelt con-
version of the sinner" (pp. 11, 12). His lack of supporting evidence
makes Dussinger's insights difficult to accept, especially when it is
noted that the idea of "atonement" in Pamela is not so straight-forward
or "pat" as he suggests. Cf. pp. 227, 285, 365, and 372 of the River-
side Edition; especially interesting is page 368, where Mr. B. warns
Pamela not to assume that her "Interposition" is "sufficient to atone for
the Faults of others."

8See Bernard Kreissman, Pamela-Shamela. A Study of the Criticisms,
Burlesques, Parodies, and Adaptations of Richardson's Pamela (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1960). There generally has been more work
done on the religious and even providential elements in Fielding's novels
than on the novels of Richardson. For example, see Martin C. Battestin's
The Moral Basis of Fielding's Art (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan Univer-
sity Press, 1959); James A. Work's "Henry Fielding, Christian Censor,"
pp. 139-148 of The Age of Johnson: Essays Presented to Chauncey Brewster
Tinker (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964, c. 1949), ed., Frederick
W. Hilles; Allan Wendt's "The Moral Allegory in Jonathan Wild ELH,
XXIV, 24 (1957), 306-320; William Park's "Fielding and Richardson," PMLA,
LXXXI, 5 (October, 1966), 381-388; Eric Rothstein's-'The Framework of
Shamela," ELH, 35, 3 (Sept., 1968), 381-402; Howard D. Weinbrot's
"Chastity and Interpolation: Two Aspects of Joseph Andrews," JEGP, LXIX,
1 (Jan., 1970), 14-31; two recent articles dealing specifically with the
implications of Providence in Fielding's novels are: Martin C.
Battestin's "Tom Jones: The Argument of Design," in The Augustan Milieu.
Essays Presented to Louis A. Landa, eds., Henry Knight Miller, Eric
Rothstein, and G.S. Rousseau (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970), pp. 289-319; and
Aubrey L. Williams's "Interpositions of Providence and the Design of
Fielding's Novels," SAQ, LXX, 1 (Spring, 1971), 265-286. Since these
articles deal almost entirely with Fielding, I shall not discuss them at
length except to say that Battestin's statements about Providence are
somewhat ambiguous. Emphasizing as he does its importance in fiction
which presents a "comedic" view of life, he neglects to deal adequately
with it as a theological concept present and viable in all types of
literature during the period. Further, he states that the "happy ending
of Pamela is unacceptable because the novel asks to be taken as a faith-
ful (even in a pious sense) representation of actuality" (p. 317). If
this is the case with Pamela, it is difficult for me to see how one is to

take the equally "happy" endings of all of Fielding's novels. On the
religious level, Battestin neglects to demonstrate how such a concept as
Providence, with its contingent theories of "reward" and "punishment"
frequently occurring in this life, does not represent "actuality". It
is also difficult to see how one can grant, as Battestin apparently does,
the significance of Providence as structural device in Fielding without
equally granting its significance in Richardson. William's article,
however, a continuation of the critical position found in two of his pre-
vious articles ["Congreve's Incognita and the Contrivances of Providence,"
in Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and Novelists in
Honour of John Butt, eds., Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor (London: Methuen,
1968), pp. 3-18; and "Poetical Justice, the Contrivances of Providence,
and the Works of William Congreve," ELK, XXXV (Dec., 1968), 54-65] offers
a better interpretation of Providence in Fielding's works. My discussion
of the theme of Pamela is indebted to Williams's approach to both Con-
greve and Fielding, and, as will become evident later in this study,
Richardson's fictive world view, like Congreve's and Fielding's, is def-
initely a providential one.

9Five Masters. A Study in the Mutations of the Novel (1930; rpt.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959), p. 131.

10"Richardson's Novels and Their Influence," Essays and Studies,
II, (1911), p. 41.

lThe Durham University Journal (March, 1966), p. 70; hereafter
cited in text.

12In general, Sharrock thinks that both Defoe and Richardson were
writing in opposition to the previously dominant "epic tradition" which
they believed imposed a false standard of decorum on literature. See p. 71.
1Sharrock offers as evidence such works as the MystBre d' Adam and
the Wakefield Second Shepherds' Play (70). The lengthy dominance of the
"classical principle of noble themes and lofty style" he credits to the
fact that the "classics became accepted by the church as the basis of
formal education" (71).

14For Sharrock the "psychological analysis" (73) of a "single human
heart" (74).

1Shakespeare Head Edition, IV, p. 187. Not all critics view
Richardson as being "Puritan" in religion or tradition. See Diana Spear-
man, The Novel and Society (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1966), pp. 191-193.
Richardson himself appeared to have a "tolerant" outlook on different
religions. See the Italian-Catholic episodes in Sir Charles Grandison,
and V, pp. 245, 246 of that novel. Despite this tolerance, however, none
of the major characters shows signs of supporting "enthusiasm" in any
form. For example, the following passage from Vol. V, in which Harriet
Byron writes: "Am I a prude, my dear? In the odious sense of the abused
word, I am sure I am not: But in the best sense, as derived from pru-
dence, and used in opposition to a word that denotes a worse character, I
own myself one of those who would wish to restore it to its natural res-
pectable signification, for the sake of virtue; which, as Sir Charles him-
self once hinted (Vol. III, p. 381), is in danger of suffering, by the
abuse of it; as Religion once did, by that of the word Puritan" (183).

16PQ, XLIX, 1 (Jan., 1970), p. 100; hereafter cited in text.

17Bell cites pages 148 and 161 of Watt's The Rise of the Novel in
establishing the basic premise of his article.

18Bell's citation, a telescoping of a rather lengthy passage into
four lines, contains the following: "Indeed, sir, said I, I cannot go,
till you pardon me, which I beg on my bended knees. I am truly sorry
for my boldness...Judge for me, sir, and pardon me. Pardon you! said
he, What! when you don't repent?--When you have the boldness to justify
yourself in your fault? (220)" The emphasis is Bell's.

It is interesting to note that this passage, one of the first which
shows Mr. B.'s beginning "reformation," also contains this statement by
Pamela, deleted by Bell: "I am truly sorry for my boldness.-But I see
how you go on: you creep by little and little upon me; and now soothe
me, and now threaten me; and if I should forbear to shew my resentment,
when you offer incivilities to me, would not that be to be lost by
degrees? Would it not shew, that I would bear any thing from you, if I
did not express all the indignation I could express, at the first ap-
proaches you make to what I dread" (Norton Edition, p. 220). This state-
ment, alluding as it does to numerous Biblical passages advising man to
"fly" the occasion of sin and temptation (cf. Proverbs 4.14-15; I Timothy
6.11; II Timothy 2.22), is even more "theologically charged" than the
sentences emphasized by Bell.

19Bell uses the Norton Edition of Pamela, ed. William M. Sale, Jr.
(New York, 1958). For a discussion of the unreliability of this text,
among others, see T.C. Duncan Eaves and Ben D. Kimpel, "Richardson's
Revisions of Pamela," SB, XX (1957), 61-68.

20Dussinger sees the "perfectionist hero" as a "mirror of Christ's
vicarious sacrifice." "Richardson's 'Christian Vocation'", p. 11.

21Pamela, Norton Edition, p. 36.

22Pamela, Riverside Edition, pp. 49, 50; I think that part of Bell's
difficulty arises from his acceptance of the generally inferior Norton
Edition. Given the textual problems arising from the numerous later
editions of Pamela, it is imperative to check all citations against the
First Edition.

23"Richardson's Characterization of Mr. B. and Double Purpose in
Pamela," Eighteenth-Century Studies, 3, 4 (Summer, 1970), p. 436; here-
after cited in text.
24As Needham sees it: "The nature of the personal and larger con-
flicts inherent in the plot presents in varying degrees both moral and
social dilemmas to the main characters and a double purpose--moral and
social--to the author and his novel. Furthermore, the two dilemmas and
dual purpose are inseparable, the importance of which fact some critics
have not sufficiently realized. As a moralist, Richardson must show that
mutual love in the marriage between his reclaimed rake and virtuous ser-
vant makes their union come near to the Protestant ideal of matrimony (now
accepted in theory, if not in practice). As a realist, Richardson will

seek to demonstrate that this particular marriage is a justifiable ex-
ception to the practical matrimonial criteria set by society for
approved matches" (438, 439).

25(London, 1734), p. 153.

26The Foundation of Moral Goodness (1st ed., 1728). From British
Moralists. Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth
Century, ed., L.A. Selby-Bigge, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon, 1897), I,
p. 100. In his correspondence, June 28, 1754, with Johannes Stinstra,
Dutch translator of Clarissa, Richardson relays an answer by Mr. Duncombe
pertaining to Stinstra's "Observations on Balguy's Tracts, &c.": "Mr.
Balguy has been dead some Years. His Son, a Clergyman of Learning and
Genius, was lately fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge." The Richard-
son-Stinstra Correspondence and Stinstra's Prefaces to Clarissa, ed.,
William C. Slattery (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 1969), pp.
82, 83; hereafter cited as Slattery. Richardson also printed Balguy's
A Collection of Tracts Moral and Theological, 1734. William M. Sale, Jr.,
Samuel Richardson: Master Printer (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1950), p. 148. Sale's book is invaluable because it includes an appended
list of the books published and printed by Richardson.
2The device whereby literary men in the Restoration and Eighteenth
Century attempted to approximate in their writings the Divine Justice
and Providential Order believed to exist in the world. See Thomas
Rymer's The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider'd and Examin'd b the
Practice of the Ancients, and by the Common Sense of All Ages, in a Letter
to Fleetwood Shepheard, Esq (1677), and John Dennis's The Usefulness of
the Stage, to the Happiness of Mankind, to Government, and to Religion.
Occasioned y a Late Book, written by Jeremy Collier, M.A. (1698). See
also Richard H. Tyre's "Versions of Poetic Justice in the Early Eighteenth
Century," SP, 54 (1957), pp. 29-44. For Tyre, "Both Addison and Dennis
came to see poetic justice as a necessary literary recognition of the
divine order controlling men's destinies" (44).

28See vol. II of the Everyman Edition of Pamela, ed. M. Kinkead-
Weekes (London: Dent, 1963), pp. 46-48, 351-352. In this study I am not
dealing with the sequel, Pamela II, but rather with the original story,
primarily because I think that Pamela's character, as well as the major
portrayal of Mr. B., stands complete at the end of the first part.


The Christian Canon of Richardson

Part of the trouble in reassessing Richardson's accomplishment seems

to lie in the difficulty most present-day readers have with the very term

"Christianity." In our own time, it appears to be a source of embarrass-

ment for critics even to use the terms "Christian" or "Christianity" in a

serious analysis of a literary work. Substitute words are plentiful:

"moral vision" and "ethos", and appelatives such as "Puritan," continue

to serve critics, especially those endeavoring to get around what they

see as a "failing" in Richardson, an eccentric primness or prudery in an

author otherwise of classic significance to the development of the novel.

Morality and ethics, however, are not synonyms for Christianity. Despite

the fact that ethics and morality, and subsidiary concepts such as "honor,"

may be important for the preservation of the "good" in society, they are

no more equivalent to the basic doctrines of the Gospels, than Puritanism

is to the major thrust of English Christianity. Along with many divines

in the Renaissance, Restoration, and Eighteenth Century, Richardson him-

self insists on the distinction between "morality" and "religion." To-

ward the end of Pamela II,1 Pamela writes to her parents of her former

wishes regarding Mr. B.'s progress:

There was but one thing wanting to complete all the
happiness I wished for in this life; which was, the remote
hope I had entertained, that one day, my dear Mr. B. who
from a licentious gentleman became a moralist, would be so
touched by the divine grace, as to become in time, more than
moral, a religious man, and, at last join in the duties he
had the goodness to countenance (420).


Further on in the same letter, Mr. B. asks Pamela, "Is there not, my

Pamela, a text, That the unbelieving husband shall be saved by the be-

lieving wife, whilst he beholds her chaste conversation coupled with

fear?" (422). Upon her affirmative answer, he states:

Then, my dear, I begin to hope, that will be my
case; for, from a former affair, of which this spot of
ground puts me more in mind, I see so much reason to
doubt my own strength, which I had built, and, as I
thought securely, on moral foundations, that I must look
out for a better guide to conduct me, than the proud
word honour can be, in the general acceptance of it among
us lively young gentlemen (422).

Following this, Mr. B. speaks directly of what he sees as central to his


But I depended too much upon my own strength: and
I am now convinced, that nothing but RELIGIOUS CONSIDER-
ATIONS, and a resolution to watch over the very first
appearances of evil, and to check them as they arise,
can be of sufficient weight to keep steady to his good
purpose, a vain young man, too little accustomed to
restraint, and too much used to play upon the brink of
dangers, from a temerity, and love of intrigue, natural.,
to enterprising minds (423).

This distinction between the "moral" man and the "Religious," the "Chris-

tian" man,2 is insisted upon again in Clarissa.3 In the "Author's Pre-

face," speaking of the libertines who appear in the book, Richardson

states that they are not "infidels or scoffers, nor yet such as think

themselves freed from the observance of those other moral duties which

bind man to man" (I, xiii). Thus, between Lovelace and his companions,

"Morality" is almost a social "cement," a code of behavior which is

necessary to prevent anarchy and civil dissolution. Between Clarissa and

Anna Howe, however, it is not this kind of "morality" which predominates,

but rather a "friendship, between minds endowed with the noblest prin-

ciples of virtue and religion" (I, xiii), a friendship dependent less


upon a code of "social" behavior than upon a belief in the "religious"

order which supercedes such a code. Thus, by Volume Six of Sir Charles

Grandison novell in which generally accepted concepts of "honour" and

"moral" behavior serve almost as foils to the correct religious standards

of Sir Charles) when Harriet Byron says, "But Sir Charles, madam, is a

Christian!" (40), the word itself can be taken as a concise summation and

evaluation of Sir Charles's character within the novel.

I have dwelt at some length upon the importance of the word "Christ-

tian," for purposes of noting the confusion created by a critic who,

even though granting the significance of Christianity or religion in

Richardson's novels, lumps all "spiritual" sounding words together and

thinks he still is speaking to the point. To argue that Richardson's

novels are "Christian," one should be concerned primarily not just with

the individual "prudential" or "ethical" or "moral" aspects of them, but

rather with the more comprehensive "religious" world view upon which they

are patterned. They are to be seen, moreover, as well within the main-

stream of a traditional English Christianity, an outgrowth and develop-

ment of an earlier Roman Catholic tradition, a body of doctrine and

thought stretching itself from St. Paul to Edward Young, an ideology

manifesting itself in England not just on the theological level but also

on the literary level from Chaucer to Alexander Pope.4 And since Rich-

ardson's novels also mirror the religious world view of the age in which

they were written, with "Providence" forming their most important thema-

tic concept, demonstration here of the prevalence of providential lan-

guage and situation within Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison can serve

to show that its prevalence in Pamela is somehow central rather than

incidental to the design and meaning of Richardson's first novel.

Early in Clarissa, and at a time when James and Arabella Harlowe

are methodically forcing an acceptance of Solmes as proof of Clarissa's

indifference to Lovelace, she remembers Dr. Lewen's advice of "Steadi-

ness of mind" (I, 93) when one is convinced of being absolutely in the

right, and, after mulling over the implications such counsel holds for

her present situation, writes to Anna Howe:

So, my dear, were we perfect (which no one can be),
we could not be happy in this life, unless those with
whom we have to deal (those more especially who have any
control upon us) were governed by the same principles.
But then does not the good doctor's conclusion recur-
that we have nothing to do but to choose what is right;
to be steady in the pursuit of it; and to leave the issue
to Providence?

This, if you approve of my motives (and if you don't,
pray inform me), must be my aim in the present case (I, 94).

A little later in the first volume, following Lovelace's woodhouse appear-

ance and the ever-increasing harshness of her relatives, the result of her

seeming obstinacy, Clarissa, in a letter to her brother (really designed

to reach her parents), says of the proposed meeting with Solmes: "Let Mr.

Solmes come and go, as my papa pleases: let me but stay or retire when

he comes, as I can; and leave the rest to Providence" (I, 261). Shortly

after the disastrous meeting with Solmes, and in the face of threats to

carry her to her Uncle Anthony's, Clarissa questions the apparent whim-

sicalness of her present situation:

0 my dear! what is worldly wisdom but the height of
folly? I, the meanest, at least the youngest, of my
father's family, to thrust myself in the gap between such
uncontrollable spirits!-to the interception perhaps of
the designs of Providence, which may intend to make these
hostile spirits their own punishers (I, 413).

A few pages later, and in a similarly contemplative mood, Clarissa ques-

tions: "Who knows what the justice of Heaven may inflict, in order to

convince us that we are not out of the reach of misfortune; and to

reduce us to a better reliance, than we have hitherto presumptuously

made?" (I, 419). Writing from St. Albans following her flight, Clarissa

describes to Anna Howe the arguments used by Lovelace to persuade her

to leave with him. During this debate, Lovelace lets fall threats

against the safety of her family if Solmes should be the man, and Clarissa

retorts: "To Providence, Mr. Lovelace, and to the law, will I leave the

safety of my friends. You shall not threaten me into a rashness that my

heart condemns! Shall I, to promote your happiness, as you call it,

destroy all my future peace of mind?" (I, 479).

From even these few examples an insistent theme is visible in the

novel.5 Clarissa, following an initial refusal to abide by the dictates

of her parents6 and an initial wavering in her decision to follow the

advice of Dr. Lewen, is progressively attacked from all sides; pressured

by vindictive and well-meaning relatives alike, and entreated and impor-

tuned by a "lover" who in many ways, through the use of such agents as

Joseph Leman within the Harlowe family, is able to prod them all at will,

resulting in continual upset and turmoil; and she is on numerous occa-

sions left defenseless save for a pious "hope" that somehow, some way,

God, through His "Providence," will effectively support her in the time of

her trouble. Once she has physically left the protection of her parents,

moreover, Clarissa indeed faces seemingly invincible opponents: Lovelace

himself, almost "Satanic" in his characterization, a man knowing the good

and yet unwilling to amend himself sufficiently to do the good;7 Madam

Sinclair and her prostitutes; and the world itself, London in particular,

a place of whores and pimps and cutthroats far removed from the quiet

garden of Harlowe Place and the serenity of the Dairy House. Neverthe-

less, Clarissa not only endures but becomes by the time of her death not

an object of pity but an example, a very special instance, of the per-

manence of the good and the active and continual concern of God for suf-

fering virtue. However innocent in comparison to a Lovelace or Sinclair,

Clarissa is aware continually that leaving her parents' house was a rash

and even "prideful" action.8 However forced and buffeted by her rela-

tives, she sees herself as wrong to flee, to act in a way contrary to "the

designs of Providence," and in Volume Two she anticipates with faith much

of what does in fact happen in the coming months: "Since it is now too

late to look back, let me collect all my fortitude and endeavour to stand

those shafts of angry Providence which it will not permit me to shun!

That whatever the trials may be which I am destined to undergo, I may not

behave unworthily in them, but come out amended by them" (168). There is

now no garden-gate through which to fly the trials awaiting her, only a

growing necessity to "choose what is right; to be steady in the pursuit

of it; and to leave the issue to Providence."

It is not my purpose to examine each instance where Providence is

alluded to by Clarissa or the other characters, or where events occur which

find their counterpart in the sermon and homiletic literature of the age.9

Clarissa time and again comments upon her progress, present state of

affairs, and future hopes, by linking them to the purposes of Heaven, the

"plan" which only God can see clearly. For example, she states to Love-

lace following the rape and her first meeting thereafter with him: "Great

and good God of Heaven...give me patience to support myself under the

weight of those afflictions, which Thou, for wise and good ends, though

at present impenetrable by me, hast permitted" (III, 232). More perti-

nent to an understanding of the significance of Providence in the novel,

however, is Clarissa's death and the letters subsequently delivered to

all the principals involved in her story.

The profound suffering of a young girl, presented throughout the

novel as almost a paragon of the Christian virtues, stirred in Richard-

son's own time some rather passionate and interesting responses.

Richardson was advised by Mrs. Pilkington, that when Colley Cibber heard

that Clarissa must die, he said, "G_d d_n him, if she should; and that

he should no longer believe Providence, or eternal Wisdom, or Goodness

governed the world, if merit, innocence, and beauty were to be destroyed:

nay (added he) my mind is so hurt with the thought of her being violated,

that were I to see her in Heaven, sitting on the knees of the blessed

Virgin, and crowned with glory, her suffering would still make me feel

horror, horror distilled."10 Richardson himself, however, answering Lady

Bradshaigh's repeated desire that Clarissa be rewarded in this world,

emphasizes what he was trying to depict in his novel thus:

A writer who follows nature, and pretends to keep
the Christian system in his eye, cannot make a heaven in
this world for his favourites, or represent this life
otherwise than as a state of probation. Clarissa, I once
more aver, could not be rewarded in this world. To have
given her her reward here, as in a happy marriage, would
have been as if a poet had placed his catastrophe in the
third act of his play, when the audience were obliged to
expect two more. What greater moral proof can be given
of a world after this, for the rewarding of suffering, and
for the punishing of oppressive vice, than the inequalities
in the distribution of rewards and punishments here below?11

That Richardson kept "the Christian system in his eye" further ap-

pears evident if the various letters Clarissa entrusts Belford to send

in the event of her death are examined carefully. She says to Belford

himself, whose spiritual growth'-stands in direct contrast to Lovelace's

progressive hardness of heart, "let me hope that I may be a humble in-

strument in the hands of Providence, to reform a man of your abilities"

(IV, 355); she pleads with her brother to "Leave, then, the poor wretch

[Lovelace] to the Divine justice" (IV, 362); and she admonishes and pro-

phetically warns Lovelace himself to "lose no time. Set about your re-

pentance instantly. Be no longer the instrument of Satan, to draw poor

souls into those subtile snares, which at last shall entangle your own

feet" (IV, 437). But, it is the letter to her Uncles, John and Antony,

that reveals the best insight into her progress, indeed the major instance

of her perception of the significance of Providence. Despite its length,

it should be cited in full:

The ways of Providence are unsearchable. Various are
the means made use of by it, to bring poor sinners to a
sense of their duty. Some are drawn by love, others are
driven by terrors, to their Divine refuge. I had for
eighteen years out of nineteen rejoiced in the favour and
affection of every one. No trouble came near my heart.
I seemed to be one of those designed to be drawn by the
silken cords of love. But perhaps I was too apt to value
myself upon the love and favour of every one: the merit
of the good I delighted to do, and of the inclinations
which were given me, and which I could not help having, I
was, perhaps, too ready to attribute to myself; and now,
being led to account for the cause of my temporary cala-
mities, find I had a secret pride to be punished for, which
I had not fathomed: and it was necessary perhaps that some
sore and terrible misfortunes should befall me, in order to
mortify that my pride and that my vanity.

Temptations were accordingly sent. I shrunk in the
day of trial. My discretion, which had been so cried up,
was found wanting when it came to be weighed in an equal
balance. I was betrayed, fell, and became the byword of
my companions, and a disgrace to my family, which had prided
itself in me perhaps too much. But as my fault was not that
of a culpable will, when my pride was sufficiently mortified,
I was not suffered (although surrounded by dangers, and en-
tangled in snares) to be totally lost: but purified by
sufferings, I was fitted for this change I have NOW, at the
time you will receive this, so newly, and, as I humbly hope,
so happily experienced (IV, 364-365).

This letter marks the high point of Clarissa's self-awareness. It

is "Providence" which she now believes to have been at work in the world

through which she has journeyed,12 a force intricately linked to the

recent events in her life. Man's goal, exemplified by Clarissa herself,


is to arrive at a "Divine refuge" in spite of the dangers, trials, and

temptations to which the human condition is prone. There is no escaping

the trials of life, no garden-gate leading to a better world, and the

best anyone can expect is a death similar to Clarissa's, full of hope and

quiet trust in a God whose mercy and justice, love and wrath, concern and

guidance are visibly present in the world, and who uses various "Instru-

mentd'to draw men to Him, yet always allowing a freedom of will in the

creatures He created and sustains.13 Clarissa, as this letter shows, is

not purged of an adolescent "vanity" or a feminine "coyness," but rather

of a potentially dangerous belief, born in the safety of a sequestered

life, in her own unwavering goodness and purity, a belief which she almost

equated with proof of salvation. The "merit" given her by others was

merely accepted as her just due, unearned, and believed to be further

proof of her value without the need to preserve and exercise, actively

and continually, each day, the fragile "virtue," the precarious "goodness"

found in all men. She has, by the time of her death, taken the warnings

of God, read aright the workings of Providence in the world, and can be

said to be in a good way toward salvation. Her ultimate "choices" were

correct ones, and her final "reward" is left to God.

The Divine warnings, the "ways of Providence" at work in the world,

which Clarissa takes to heart, are lost on Lovelace. While she attains

self-knowledge from her sufferings, he progressively hardens his heart.14

The death of Sinclair, and Belford's vivid description of her last hours,

do little to force Lovelace into an admission of the heinousness of his

actions. Following Clarissa's death, he "raves" for a time, but his

pride remains unshakable. Clarissa's last letter to him explicitly

describes what he can expect if, by his continued wickedness, he "multi-

plys" his "offenses" and refuses to beg forgiveness of God. In a passage

telescoping Job 18 and 20, Clarissa warns that:

The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the
joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. He is cast into
a net by his own feet-he walketh upon a snare. Terrors
shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him
to his feet. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, and
destruction shall be ready at his side. The first-born
of death shall devour his strength. His remembrance
shall perish from the earth; and he shall have no name
in the streets. He shall be chased out of the world.
He shall have neither son nor nephew among his people.
They that have seen him shall say, Where is he? He
shall fly away as a dream: he shall be chased away as
a vision of the night. His meat is the gall of asps
within him. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the
bow of steel shall strike him through. A fire not blown
shall consume him. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity,
and the earth shall rise up against him. The worm shall
feed sweetly on him. He shall be no more remembered.
This is the fate of him that knoweth not God (IV, 437).

Even this graphic and prophetic statement fails to cause Lovelace to

leave his pride. In his next letter to Belford, he appears as a man

"suffering" yet steadfast in his refusal to submit to a power greater

than his own:

I have been in a cursed way. Methinks something
has been working strangely retributive. I never was
such a fool as to disbelieve a Providence; yet am I
not for resolving into judgments everything that seems
to wear an avenging face. Yet if we must be punished
either here or hereafter for our misdeeds, better here,
say I, than hereafter. Have I not then an interest to
think my punishment already not only begun, but com-
pleted; since what I have suffered, and do suffer,
passes all description? (IV, 438).

Although Lovelace continually laments the death of Clarissa, it appears

to be an essentially "selfish" lamentation. He even repents this letter

to Belford and states that "I own not that I am still excessively

grieved at the disappointment this admirable woman made it so much her

whimsical choice to give me. But, since it has thus fallen out; since

she was determined to leave the world; and since she actually ceases to

be; ought I, who have such a share of life and health in hand, to


indulge gloomy reflections upon an event that is past; and being past,

cannot be recalled?" (IV, 442).

Ultimately it is his progressive egoistic selfishness, whereby Love-

lace closes his ears to the warnings of Providence and hardens his heart

in response to the first stirring of conscience, that causes his de-

struction. Belford pleads with him shortly before his departure for

Europe: "if you do not quickly reform, it will be out of your power to

reform at all; and that Providence, which has already given you the

fates of your agents Sinclair and Tomlinson to take warning by, will not

let the principal offender escape, if he slight the warning" (IV, 449).

Lovelace, however, turns this warning into a source for mirth, and chides

Belford for indulging in "the dismal and the horrible" at the expense of

"gaiety" (IV, 450). The examples of Lovelace's refusal to heed the

warnings of Providence following the death of Clarissa are numerous, and

eventually Clarissa's prophecy is fulfilled when he literally is "cast

into a net by his own feet" and killed by Colonel Morden in a duel in-

advertently brought about by a "conscience-ridden" letter from his former

tool, Joseph Leman, stating that the Colonel vowed "to have his will" of

him (IV, 515).15 His pride, so manifest in his retorts to the sincere

admonishments of Belford, causes him to meet the Colonel and subsequently

receive a mortal wound at his hands. His last words, "LET THIS EXPIATE"

(IV, 530), especially when joined with his earlier refusal to heed the

warnings of Providence, are evidence not of a sincere repentance, but

again rather of a pride which causes him to demand that his death be

acceptable as an "atonement" for the suffering and death of Clarissa.16

Unlike Clarissa, Lovelace dies in selfishness and pride, a man "hoist

on his own petard,"17 and an example for others of the providential

justice which many divines saw manifesting itself against the wicked

frequently in this life, but most assuredly in the next.18

While not as insistent as Clarissa upon overtprovidential control,

Sir Charles Grandison nevertheless presents a fictive world view pat-

terned upon a "real world" belief in the Providence of God.19 The

major "plot" proceeds by way of the long and elaborate courtship of Har-

riet Byron, and not until late in the novel is it certain that she and

Sir Charles will wed. The prime obstacles to their marriage comprise the

"sub-plot" and derive from two different sets of circumstances: the

prior "engagement" of Sir Charles to an Italian gentlewoman, Lady Clemen-

tina, and the ever-present danger posed to both Sir Charles and Harriet

by various rakes, most notably Sir Hargrave Pollexfen. The Clementina

"problem," a result of Sir Charles's rescuing the scion of a wealthy

Italian family and being accepted into their confidence, involves con-

flicts of both religion and nationality. The Lady comes dangerously

close to insanity in an attempt to reconcile her Roman Catholic heritage

with the Protestantism of Sir Charles, causing Sir Charles in turn to

agonize, after his return to England, over the irreconcilability of

honoring a prior commitment and his growing love for Harriet. The mach-

inations of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, ranging from the abduction of Harriet

to his attempts at forcing Sir Charles into a duel, provide the means

whereby Sir Charles's essential character is revealed, and also reveal

the futility of selfish and prideful behavior. The Clementina episodes,

coupled with those involving Sir Hargrave, serve to heighten a picture of

the world as "maze" or as a scene of baffling social twists and turns

which make even the probable event uncertain of ever being realized. Sir

Charles moves from crisis to crisis, arrives at critical times to save

suffering innocence, and always attributes his success to a power greater

than himself, wishing only to be "an humble instrument, in the hand of

Providence" (IV, 121). Unlike a Lovelace, finally hardened in sin and

unwilling to repent, or a Mr. B., originally indulging his sinful desires

and finally started on the path of salvation by the continuing example of

a worthy woman, Sir Charles, instilled from childhood by his mother in

"the first principles of Christianity" (I, 401), stands, from his initial

appearance, as a mature "good" man and as an active agent for this "good"

-in a world too often excessively passionate and prone to civil disso-

lution as a result of various codes of "honour" which are little more

than euphemisms for murder.20

The clearest statement of the world order by which Sir Charles

Grandison is shaped comes in Volume Two when Dr. Bartlett shows the

assembled company Emily Jervois's translation of the "Sonnet of Vincenzio

de Filicaja":

See a fond mother incircled by her children: With
tenderness she looks around, and her soul even melts
with maternal Love. One she kisses on the forehead;
and clasps another to her bosom. One she sets upon her
knee: and finds a seat upon her foot for another. And
while, by their actions, their lisping words, and asking
eyes, she understands their various numberless little
wishes; to these she dispenses a look; a word to those;
and whether she smiles or frowns 'tis all in tender Love.

Such to us, tho' infinitely high and awful, is
PROVIDENCE: So it watches over us; comforting these;
providing for those; listening to all; assisting every
one: And if sometimes it denies the favour we implore,
it denies but to invite our more earnest prayers, or,
seeming to deny a blessing, grants one in that refusal

This translation, in many ways, describes what generally does happen in

the novel. Providence, the active representation of the love, mercy, and

justice of God, works in and through man and nature to govern, aid, and

guide man according to a purpose not always immediately clear, but always

finally equitable. As Providence, working in the world, is seen

"assisting every one", so periodically in the novel, momentum is carried

by a number of timely "assists," events so extraordinary that to view

them as mere "coincidence" is to make probability itself seem ludicrous.

Here I shall examine three episodes which are representative of such

"assists" and such larger concerns in Sir Charles Grandison: the Harriet-

Pollexfen kidnap scene; the Danby story; and the later episode of Sir

Hargrave Pollexfen in France.

The kidnapping of Harriet Byron from a masquerade by Sir Hargrave

Pollexfen sets in motion a string of occurrences which lead to the first

appearance of Sir Charles in the novel. Sir Hargrave uses Harriet's

newly hired servant, one William Wilson, to arrange to carry her to the

house of the Widow Awberry at Paddington. Once at Paddington, Sir Har-

grave plans to force Harriet to marry him. The plot is put into effect,

and, when Harriet stoutly resists the attempted marriage ceremony, cal-

ling the whole time upon God to protect her (I, 233), Sir Hargrave,

finally afraid of her fits and screaming, forces her into his coach and

starts for his Windsor seat. Soon thereafter, while wrapped in a cloak

with her mouth and eyes bound, and feeling the coach stop, Harriet works

the gag free and cries out, "Help, for God's sake" (I, 252). What fol-

lows is her rescue by Sir Charles Grandison, who, apparently by the

sheerest of "chances," is riding near Hounslow. Later, however, Harriet

says of the events leading up to her rescue: "Lord L. carried his Lady

[Sir Charles's older sister] down to Scotland, where she was greatly ad-

mired and caressed by all his relations. How happy for your Harriet was

their critically-proposed return, which carried down Sir Charles and

Miss Charlotte to prepare every-thing at Colnebrooke for their reception"

(II, 146). While this scene is not explicitly providential, the

"critically-proposed return" of Lord and Lady L. which sets in motion


the equally "critical" arrival of Sir Charles at the exact time and place

near Hounslow where he could be of service to a helpless woman, is never-

theless reminiscent of treatments of the workings of Divine Providence.

During a sermon concerning the "Particular Providence" of God, Isaac

Barrow, for example, asks his congregation "if, sometime or other, in

their lives, they have not in their pressing needs and straits (especial-

ly upon their addresses to God for help) found help and comfort conveyed

unto them by an insensible hand; if they have not sometimes in a manner

unaccountable escaped imminent dangers; if they have not in the perfor-

mance of their duty and devotion toward God experienced a comfort more

than ordinary; if they cannot to some events of their life aptly [Ps.

XXXIV.6, 7, 8; CXLV.18, 19] apply those observations of the Psalmist:

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and delivered him out of his

troubles: The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear

him, and delivereth them: 0 taste and see that the Lord is good. 0

taste and see."21 When it is kept in mind that, for Barrow, one of the

"characters" of the particular Providence of God was the seasonablenesss

and suddenness of events", when something occurred which was not prob-

able "in the nick of an exigency, for the relief of innocence, the en-

couragement of goodness, the support of a good cause, the furtherance of

any good purpose",22 one may perhaps view Harriet's rescue by Sir Charles

as something other than merely "fortuitous" or "coincidental." The fact

that Harriet herself calls upon God for help and subsequently is rescued

by a man who wishes to be "an humble instrument, in the hand of Provi-

dence" (IV, 121) may also lead one to conclude that this scene is only

the first of many which, taken together, delineate a Christian world

order in which the major characters exist.

The Danby story provides another example of the significance of

Providence in the novel. Following the death of his friend Danby, Sir

Charles in reading the will finds that he has been named executor and

residuaryy legatee" because he "had been the principal instrument in

the hand of Providence, of saying his life" (II, 248). Later, after his

noble treatment of Mr. Danby's two nephews and his niece, children of

the very brother who it is soon learned had attempted to murder Danby,

Sir Charles says to them: "Look upon what is done for you, not as the

reward of any particular merits in yourselves, but as your debt to that

Providence, which makes it a principal part of your religion, To do good

to your fellow-creatures. In a word, let me enjoin you, in all your

transactions, to remember mercy as well as justice" (II, 259). The

story itself is told by Sir Charles later at a family gathering.

Prompted by Lord L., Sir Charles tells how Danby, a thriving merchant

settled at Cambray, was troubled by his profligate brother. Jealous of

Danby's support of his three children and recent refusal to give him any

more money, this brother plotted to murder Danby, and, because of the

lack of a will, inherit his fortune. About this time Sir Charles visited

Danby and was persuaded to spend a few days with him at his "villa in the

Cambresis" (II, 439). Around midnight, Sir Charles was awakened by

violent noises from Danby's bedchamber, and, drawing his sword, discovered

a ruffian about to cut the throat of the helpless merchant. After a

scuffle in which he seriously wounds one of the would-be assassins, and

drives off the other two, Sir Charles revives Danby, and secures the

wounded man, who soon confesses that it was Danby's brother who had hired

them. Later, the "surviving villains," sentenced to the galleys, related

that "they knew nothing of Mr. Danby's having a guest with him: If they

had, they owned they would have made their attempt another night" (II,

441). Thus, a "chance" acquaintance and a "propitious" time for a visit

to a villa save the life of an innocent and worthy man, and later enable

Sir Charles to execute both justice and mercy toward the equally innocent

children of the man whose plot he had been able to foil.

To view this episode, brief as it is, as just another reiteration

of the incredible "goodness" of Sir Charles is to miss the point, for

the episode is typical of the general movement of the novel, which con-

sists, in many ways, of a series of similar episodes. Whether physically

saving Harriet or Danby or Jeronymo, whether spiritually salvaging

Emily's mother and Major O'Hara or Everard Grandison, Sir Charles is

always at the right place at the right time not because of any artistic

naivete on Richardson's part, but because he inhabits a fictive world

which mirrors a real one in which an omnipotent and omniscient God rules,

sustains, and frequently intervenes, using His creatures to correct a

wrong or save a suffering innocence. Sir Charles acknowledges as much

when he hopes to be "an humble instrument, in the hand of Providence",

or when he states of himself at one point that "God only knows...what

may be my destiny!--As generosity, as justice, or rather as Providence

leads, I will follow" (IV, 9). One could wish himself to be such an

instrument of Providence without any taint of moral "smugness," primarily

because such "instruments" were thought not only to exist but to be

essential for the continued well-being of all human existence. As Isaac

Barrow, Henry Fielding's favorite divine, put it: "the instruments of

Providence being free agents, acting with unaccountable variety, nothing

can happen which may not be imputed to them with some colourable

pretence. Divine and human influences are so twisted and knot together,

that it is hard to sever them."23 Sir Charles is continually "acting,"


continually engaging life, not passively riding with the whims of "fate"

or "fortune," and in so doing he emerges indeed as a fit "instrument" of


A final example of his "instrumentality" may be gathered from the

occasion when Sir Charles and Dr. Lowther are stopped outside Paris by a

terrified servant who states "that his master, who was an Englishman,

and his friend of the same nation, had been a little while before

attacked, and forced out of the road in their post-chaise, as he doubted

not, to be murdered, by no less than seven armed horsemen" (IV, 80, 81).

Noticing the servant's livery is that of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, travel-

ing on the continent to "forget" his failure with Harriet Byron and

"disgrace" in the attempted kidnapping, Sir Charles rushes to the scene

where he finds two gentlemen being beaten unmercifully. The two "gentle-

men" are Sir Hargrave and his companion, Mr. Merceda. After stopping

the attack and helping the two bloody "victims" as much as possible, Sir

Charles tries to determine its cause. It finally becomes apparent that

Pollexfen, Merceda, and Bagenhall had "made a vile attempt...on a Lady's

honour at Abbeville" (IV, 85), and that Bagenhall, guilty of seducing,

on promise of marriage, a manufacturer's young daughter, had escaped

with the father pursuing him. The demand that Pollexfen and Merceda

kneel and ask pardon of the Lady's husband is met, and the two then

"kneeled again to their deliverer, and poured forth blessings upon the

man whose life, so lately, one of them sought; and whose preservation

he had now so much reason to rejoice in, for the sake of his own safety"

(IV, 87). The physician, Dr. Lowther, happily one of the best-skilled

in England, presumably patches them up sufficiently for the Channel


That this rescue of Sir Hargrave is not merely an example of Sir

Charles mechanically returning "good for evil," or yet another attempt

by Richardson to raise to epic proportions his hero's "benevolence," is

soon evident. Later in the novel, following Sir Charles's marriage to

Harriet, a subdued Sir Hargrave, believing himself close to death, says

to Sir Charles, "Great God!...how are you rewarded! How am I punished!

Is there no hope that I have my punishment in this Life? I am sure, it

is very, very heavy" (VI, 15, 16). At the time of his death Sir Hargrave

says, "Fain...would I have been trusted with a few years trial of my

penitence. I have wearied heaven with my prayers to this purpose. I

deserved not perhaps that they should be heard. My conscience cruelly

told me, that I have neglected a multitude of opportunities! slighted a

multitude of warnings!--0 Sir Charles Grandison! It is a hard, hard

thing to die! In the prime of youth too!--Such noble possessions" (VI,

323, 324). Following this, Sir Hargrave warns his surrounding friends

of the dangers of living such a life as his, compares his present un-

happy end with the happiness of Sir Charles, and dies with Sir Charles

comforting him and calling "out for mercy for him, when the poor man

could only by expressive looks, join in the solemn invocation" (VI, 324).

Thus, Sir Hargrave, unlike Lovelace, moves in the novel, as a direct

result of Sir Charles Grandison (an acknowledged "instrument of Provi-

dence") from rake to a man at least on the way to true penitence, to one

with a chance of obtaining "mercy" from God. His penitence at the end

of his life, his provision for his relatives and charity toward the man

who has won Harriet are not "sentimental" touches, but rather are

reminiscent of the attempts by divines to deal with both the presence

of evil and the seeming inequality of rewards and punishments in this

world. However true it may be that an afterlife will finally rectify


unpunished wrongs, there is, as John Veneer pointed out, and Sir Hargrave

represents, "another reason why God does not immediately punish wicked

Men", and that is "that they may have time to become better; that his

Goodness, as St. Paul expresseth himself, may lead them to Repentance.


One of the conclusions to be drawn from this brief examination of

Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison is that there is more to seemingly

"improbable" or "accidental" events in contemporary literature than has

been recognized. For too long, scholars have read such things as the

lengthy survival of Clarissa's "chastity" while in the power of Lovelace

and Sinclair, or the "timely" arrivals of Sir Charles Grandison, as

examples of Richardson's naivete in novelistic technique, a failing

more than compensated for by his "sensitivity" to the feminine mind or

the psychology of human "passion." Too often it is overlooked or simply

ignored that these so-called "improbable," "accidental," or almost "fan-

tastic" elements in his novels are so numerous and so carefully worked

out that they emerge from any close reading as the essential components

of the novel's design. The "world" of Richardson's novels is to my mind

little different from the "real" world to which divines address them-

selves in sermon, tract and scriptural commentary. The concept of Pro-

vidence is common, during the period, to literary and religious writer

alike; indeed, at times, it is difficult to establish clear-cut dis-

tinctions between their individual uses and examinations of it.26 I am

not saying that, because of the religious implications of his work,

Richardson, or any writer for that matter, was simply composing a theo-

logical tract. Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison are novels,

literary works, and as such engage life through use of a form entirely

different from that of a sermon or polemic. Despite this difference,


however, many of the ideas presented in the two are markedly similar,

and are evident in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century both in the

works of such "literary" men as Congreve and Dryden, Richardson and

Fielding, and such divines as South and Tillotson.


Chapter Two

'For this brief discussion of Pamela II, I will cite in text from
Pamela, 2 vols (London: Everyman, 1963), II.

This is not to say that the words "moral" or "morality" are never
used by Richardson to denote Christian "truths," or that they are dif-
ferentiated with such consistency from "religion" as I may seem to sug-
gest. For example, in Volume VI of the Correspondence he writes to Lady
Bradshaigh of Clarissa that the "moral instructions, warnings, &c" were
"the very motive with me, of the story's being written at all" (P. 245);
also, in a letter to Aaron Hill, 29 Oct., 1746, he links "Moral Equity"
in Clarissa with the belief in a "future reward; another of my principal
Doctrines", Selected Letters of Samuel Richardson, ed., John Carroll
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1946), p. 73; while in a letter to Frances Grainger,
22 Jan., 1749/50, he refers to Clarissa herself as a "Christian Heroine",
Selected Letters, p. 145. What I am emphasizing here, and what the evi-
dence of the novels suggests, is that mere "morality," the adherence to
various "rules" of conduct or civil tradition, without, as Pamela says,
being "touched by the divine grace," is not, however necessary a first
step, the same thing as the "RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS," the Christian
"truths" which, as my following chapters demonstrate, stand as the most
important elements in Richardson's novels. For the best statement of
this, see pp. x-xi of The Apprentice's Vade Mecum (London, 1734), where
Richardson states: "We have indeed lately had great Encomiums made on
Morality, and the Point has been carry'd so far, that the whole of our
Duty has been asserted by some bold Innovators to be comprehended there-
in: 'Tis certain that Morality is an indispensable Requisite of true
Religion, and there can be none without it. But it would become the
Pride and Ignorance of Pagans only, to magnify it, as the Whole of what
is necessary: for, blessed be God, good Christians can glory in a
Religion that is as much Superior to that, as the Soul is to the Body;
and of which Morality is but as one Round of a Ladder, which shall mount
us to the true Christian Perfection. And we shall take upon us to say,
That a Person who has a true Sense of Morality, and is under the proper
Influences of its most excellent Dictates, must have, at least, the
Modesty to treat more respectfully the Faith of his Ancestors, than most
of those pert and pragmatical Cavillers do."

3Samuel Richardson, Clarissa. Or, the History of a Young Lady,
4 vols. (London: Everyman, 1965); hereafter cited in text.

4For valuable discussions of Christianity and Providence in Chaucer,
Defoe, and Pope see: Paul G. Ruggiers, The Art of the Canterbury Tales
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965); G.A. Starr, Defoe and


Spiritual Autobiography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965);
J. Paul Hunter, The Reluctant Pilgrim (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press,
1966); and A.L. Williams's "Introduction" to his edition of Poetry and
Prose of Alexander Pope (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969). A recent
work on Shakespeare is Henry Ansgar Kelly, Divine Providence in the
England of Shakespeare's Histories (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1970). For examinations of the Christian elements in Rowe and Dryden
see J. Douglas Canfield, "Nicholas Rowe's Christian Tragedies," Diss.
University of Florida 1969; and Michael J. Conlon, "Politics and Provi-
dence: John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel," Diss. University of Florida

51t should he noted that I am not dealing with every aspect of
Clarissa but rather with the dominant pattern which I think brings into
focus its general thrust. This pattern, a providential one, seems to
provide the framewurk-Tin-which-such-things as-character portrayal and
self-analysis take place.

61 will not be concerned with the controversy surrounding'Clarissa's
"culpability". Richardson himself stated on numerous occasions that she
was wrong to disobey her parents and to "run away with a man". See
Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 217; and Selected Letters, pp. 145, 206.
What concerns me at present is the significance, thematically, of the
providential language in Clarissa.

7That Lovelace is continually admonished as to what is right and
wrong action can be seen in the letters of John Belford. See, for
example, Vol. II, pp. 161, 489. See also Allan Wendt's "Clarissa's
Coffin," PQ, XXXIX, 4 (Oct., 1960), 481-495; in particular p. 492, where
he suggests that "Lovelace's desire for power is as criminal as Satan's
in that it tends to upset the moral order of the world." See also
Correspondence, Vol. IV, where Richardson states of Lovelace that "all
those seeds of wickedness were thick sown, which sprouted up into action
afterwards in his character...Pride, revenge, a love of intrigue, plot,
contrivance! And who is it that asks, Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or figs of thistles?" (187).

8For a valuable discussion of Clarissa's "pride" and her "conscience,"
(as well as that of Lovelace), see John A. Dussinger's "Conscience and the
Pattern of Christian Perfection in Clarissa," PMLA, LXXXI, 3 (June, 1966),
236-245. See also Ira Konigsberg's "The Tragedy of Clarissa," MLQ,
XXVII, 3 (Sept., 1966), 285-298. Despite the significance of Clarissa's
"pride" in refusing to submit to her parents' wishes, I think that
greater emphasis should be placed on her initial failure to persist in
her own stated belief that she should trust to Providence to support her
during her early trials.

9For example, the actions of Joseph Leman in Clarissa. Instru-
mental in Lovelace's initial "successes" within the Harlowe family,
Leman is later the direct cause of Lovelace's ultimate failure and death.
This is no simple "biter bit" story, but finds a counterpart in numer-
ous providential texts throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth cen-
turies. See Nathanial Wanley's The Wonders of the Little World: Or, a
General History of Man (London, 1678), Book VI, Chapter XXX, p. 620,
concerning "Of Retaliation, and of Such as have Suffered by Their own
Devices," in which he offers twenty-three examples of this.

Correspondence, II, pp. 128, 129.

Correspondence, IV, p. 225. As A.D. McKillop points out,
Richardson's "defense of his ending" also "stirred up a long discussion
of poetic justice by William Duncombe, Joseph Highmore, and George
Jeffreys." Samuel Richardson, Printer and Novelist (Chapel Hill: Uni-
versity of North Carolina Press, 1st ed. 1936; rpt. 1961), p. 140. For
an excellent contemporary discussion of the significance of Clarissa's
death and her highlighting of Providence, see Johannes Stinstra's "Pre-
face" to the "Seventh and Eighth Volumes" where he states: "What is con-
tained here is enough, I imagine, to make us see that a truly religious
person does not have to seek his true happiness in this life; to give him
courage and to comfort him in all of life's changeable circumstances; to
keep him from begrudging the foolish worldly person his vain and short-
lasting pleasures; to justify completely godly Providence in exposing His
favorites to disasters and oppressions; to instill a courageous and manly
piety in him in spite of all these difficulties; and to cleanse the subject
of this work, Clarissa, tortured by anger and godlessness, and dragged
finally to her death by sorrow, of all reproaches in this respect. May
it please the merciful God that all the readers of this work, by the
viewing of this beautiful picture in the cruelest of her disasters and
misfortunes, might be moved also to prepare themselves for death, ac-
cording to their circumstances, and might be enabled to undergo that un-
avoidable fate with contented souls and well-founded hopes!" William S.
Slattery, The Richardson-Stinstra Correspondence and Stinstra's Prefaces
to Clarissa, pp. 204-205.

12The "ways of Providence" and the difficulty of reading aright the
significance of things at the time they are happening, are of prime im-
portance for my analysis of the theme of Pamela. As will be demonstrated
in my fifth chapter, Pamela, unlike Clarissa, is allowed to see and ack-
nowledge the "unsearchable Wisdom of God" in life, and not at the point
of death, for purposes of affirming the justice and mercy of God in this

13As Richardson himself stated in a letter to Lady Bradshaigh: "0
that my own last hour, and the last hour of those I love, may be such as
that I have drawn for my Clarissa!" Correspondence, IV, p. 228.

14Lovelace's "hardness of heart" is almost a commonplace in Richard-
son criticism. See Dussinger's "Conscience and the Pattern of Christian
Perfection," pp. 238, 240. Richardson's statements concerning this also
are numerous. See Correspondence, IV, p. 187.

15For an interesting examination of the role of Colonel Morden, see
Robert M. Schmitz's "Death and Colonel Morden in Clarissa," SAQ, LXIX, 3
(Summer, 1970), 346-353.

16For Richardson's own statements regarding the impossibility of
Lovelace's "atonement" see Correspondence, IV, pp. 188-190.

17This often has been noted by critics. See A.D. McKillop's The
Early Masters of English Fiction (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press,
1956), p. 73; and F.S. Boas's From Richardson to Pinero. Some Innovators

and Idealists (1936; rpt. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press,
1969), p. 32. See also pp. 167, 168 and 375 of Richardson's Sentiments,
Maxims, Cautions, and Reflections (London, 1755).

18Cf. The Whole Duy of Man, Laid Down in a Plain and Familiar Way,
for the Use of All, but especially the Meanest Reader (London: F.C. & J.
Rivington, 1821), in particular page 139: "And it is most frequently
seen, that this sin [pride] meets with very extraordinary judgements even
in this life. But if it should not, let not the proud man think that he
hath escaped God's vengeance, for it is sure there will be a most sad
reckoning in the next; for if God spared not the angels for this sin, but
cast them into hell, let no man hope to speed better." Richardson men-
tions The Whole Duty of Man in Pamela, p. 431 of the Riverside Edition;
and in Pamela II, Vol. II, p. 183 of the Everyman Edition.

19Since much less critical work has been done on Grandison than on
Clarissa, I will examine it in more detail. For an interesting short
appraisal of Grandison however, see Dussinger's "Richardson's 'Christian
Vocation,'" especially pp. 13-14. Although not dealing specifically with
Providence, Dussinger nevertheless states that Richardson's "religious
program remains the same" in Grandison (13).

20Many critics, however, see him as a "prig". See Needham's "Rich-
ardson's Characterization of Mr. B. and Double Purpose in Pamela," p. 446.
See also C.L. Thomson's Samuel Richardson. A Biographical and Critical
Study (1900; rpt. Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1970),
pp. 220-223. A statement of Richardson's own appraisal of the "humanity"
of Sir Charles, however, is found in Correspondence, III, pp. 169-170:
"I would draw him as a mortal. He should have all the human passions to
struggle with; and those he cannot conquer he shall endeavour to make sub-
servient to the causes of virtue." Since "passion" in the novel is
usually closely associated with "pride," for Dr. Bartlett, Sir Charles's
religious adviser, "the life of a good man" is thus "a continual warfare
with his passions." Sir Charles Grandison, III, p. 74.

21The Theological Works, ed., Rev. Alexander Napier, 9 vols. (Cam-
bridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1859), II, p. 288.

22Theological Works, I, p. 460.

23Theological Works, I, p. 451.

24Richardson himself attests to this need for "action" by stating
to Lady Bradshaigh, Correspondence, IV, p. 222: "A becalmed life is like
a becalmed ship. The very happiness to which we are long accustomed be-
comes like a stagnated water, rather infectious than salutary."
25An Exposition of the Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England:
Founded on the Holy Scriptures, and the Fathers of the Three First Cen-
turies. In Two Volumes (London, 1734), I, p. 45. This book was printed
by Richardson. See William M. Sale's Samuel Richardson: Master Printer,
p. 212.

26For the frequent intermingling of the concerns of literary men
with those of religious writers during the period, see Richardson's


"Preface" to Clarissa, and his letter to Lady Bradshaigh, 26 Oct., 1748,
where he states: "Such are the Lessons I endeavour to inculcate by an
Example in natural Life. And the more irksome these Lessons are to the
Young, the Gay, and the Healthy, the more necessary are they to be

A Verse may find him who a Sermon flies
And turn Delight into a Sacrifice--Of this Nature is my Design.
Religion never was at so low an Ebb as at present: And if my Work must
be supposed of the Novel kind, I was willing to try if a Religious Novel
would do good." Selected Letters, pp. 91, 92. This statement is also
found in a slightly edited form in Correspondence, IV, p. 187.


Richardson and Christian Providence

The "Providence" which Clarissa saw as the force preserving, testing,

and finally supporting her at the moment of death, the "Providence" of

which Sir Charles Grandison wished to serve as an "instrument," represents,

apart from the evidence of his novels, an important aspect of Richardson's

own view of the world as it is revealed in his correspondence. For ex-

ample, Edward Young's evaluation of Richardson's "mission" as a novelist

is not empty flattery, but an incisive insight into his aims and accom-

plishment: "When the pulpit fails, other expedients are necessary. I

look upon you as a peculiar instrument of Providence, adjusted to the

peculiar exigence of the times; in which all would be fine gentlemen, and

only are at a loss to know what that means. While they read, perhaps,

from pure vanity, they do not read in vain; and are betrayed into benefit,

while amusement is their pursuit. I speak not this at a venture; I am

so happy as already to have had proofs of what I say." A similar eval-

uation addressed to Richardson is the one by the Dutch translator of

Clarissa, Johannes Stinstra, who tells him that one "cannot forbear to

observe and venerate the hand and dispensation of Providence, whose

footsteps we commonly not enough acknowledge in particular cases, which

thus from your earliest years has instilled in your mind those happy

facts, which afterwards have produced such fine and useful fruits.

However I must admire that this talent so long has laid hidden, the whole


interval from your youth to your more advanced years."2 Throughout the

correspondence, Richardson appears as a believer in Providence, and his

evaluation of himself, in a letter to J.B. Defreval, is reminiscent of

contemporary theological writings which stressed the intrinsic dignity

of individual men and the close association between human action and

Divine support: "My own industry, and God's providence, have been my

whole reliance. The great are not great to me, unless they are good.

And it is a glorious privilege, that a middling man enjoys who has pre-

served his independency, and can occasionally (though not Stoically)

tell the world, what he thinks of that world, in hopes to contribute,

though by his mite, to mend it."3

Important events in Richardson's life and in the lives of his

friends also were frequently described in providential terms.4 Writing

to Thomas Edwards about a "warehouse room" fire, Richardson states that

he "had a providential deliverance" from it,5 and, in a letter to Mrs.

Delany concerning both her recent and "blustering" passage to Ireland

and the actions of a young lady during it, he states: "Well might the

young lady behave with magnanimity. Had she not as much reason to rely

on the care of Providence as Ceasar on his fortunes, when he encountered

the Egyptian boatman in a like storm."6 Lady Bradshaigh, in describing

her recent escape from an earthquake, states that she "religiously" be-

lieved that "God's providence is over all his works; and on that every

serious person must depend, whatever situation he may be in.7 In a

letter dealing in part with Richardson's problems concerning Irish

literary "pirates," the Reverend Philip Skelton assures him that "whether

we succeed or fail in our other endeavours, to serve our friends, there

is one in which we cannot be disappointed; I mean that proposed by my

dear friend, in soliciting Divine Providence for each other's happiness."8


A final example is that of Richardson's friend and physician, Dr. George

Cheyne, who at one point in their correspondence, counsels him to give

over apothecaries, have "Patience and Perseverance," and "trust to God

and Providence under the lowest, thinnest, and coolest diet you can bear

in Hopes that in Time this may mend your Blood which would infallibly

mend all the rest."9

As even these brief passages from his correspondence indicate, when

a writer such as Richardson chooses for his first fictional heroine a

defenseless waiting-maid, who, early in her trials, comforts herself

"that God who takes the innocent Heart into his Almighty Protection...is

alone able to baffle and confound the Devices of the Mighty" (100), he is

not being eccentrically self-righteous or indulging in moralistic cant,

but is instead echoing the theological concerns of his age. Such a

writer will further simply be affirming his acquiescence in common views

of his age about the close association between the existence of God and

His Providence.

The reality of God's frequent intervention in the affairs of His

creation was often directly linked in Richardson's time to His very

existence. In 1754, John Leland summed up this connection by stating:

The doctrine of divine providence hath a very near
connection with that of the existence of the Deity,
and is no less necessary to be believed. To
acknowledge a God that brought all things into ex-
istence and yet to deny that he afterwards taketh
care of the creatures he had made, or that he ex-
erciseth any inspection over them, as a moral gov-
ernor, or concerneth himself about their actions,
and the events relating to them, is, with regard
to all the purposes of religion,18he same thing as
not to acknowledge a God at all.

Within this scheme of creation, man, as the only "reasonable" creature,

came to occupy a strategic "middle" position. Man, though a special part

of the creation, is a part of nature, and yet, because made in the "image"


of God and thus able to "know" God, is more subject to Providence than

the "natural," unreasoning parts of nature. As William Turner stated:

"The Divine Providence is exercised over all the Creation, but more

especially upon Man then other Creatures that are made subject to him;

For God causeth his Sun to shine, and his Clouds to distil with Rain,

upon the just and unjust: But more remarkably upon those that fear God

and keep close to him in the way of Duty, and a close and cordial

Devotion, then any others."11 In general, however, God uses both man

and nature, sometimes simultaneously, to fulfill His Divine purpose, to

uphold His Divine order on earth.12

Despite man's position as a "reasonable creature," and despite such

aids as his "conscience" and "nature," something else was seen as needed

for a meaningful existence. This "something else" is the more direct

support of a concerned God, and thus Richard Hooker proposes that "there

is no kind of faculty or power in man or any other creature, which can

rightly perform the functions allotted to it, without perpetual aid and

concurrence of that Supreme Cause of all things."13 In general, and as

William Wake later put it, God declares His will to man in "Chiefly Two

ways; by the Dispensations of his Providence, and by the Rules he has

set us to Live by; whether they be by Nature implanted in Us, or be

Revealed in the Gospel of Christ."14 John Tillotson, for one, is adamant

on this point when he says in Sermon XXI: "I hope it may be certain and

clear enough That there is a God; and that his Providence governs the

World."15 There is nothing, for the true Christian, outside the power

and concern of God. William Wake, in his Commentary upon the Church-

Catechism, states this best in answering Question Thirteen of Section VII:

"That as God, at the Beginning thus created All Things; so having Created

them, he has ever since continued to Support and Preserve them, Heb.l.3.

And that so particularly, that there is not the least Thing in the World,

to which his Providence does not extend itself, Mat.VI.26, 28, 29, 30.

X.29, 30."16 Belief in the omnipotence and direct intervention of God in

the world implied for the age, and for Richardson, the possibility that

God may effectively enter into any and all events to support the good

and punish the evil:

In a word, if we allow God to be the Governour
of the World, we cannot but grant, that he orders and
disposes of all Inferiour Events; and if we allow him
to be a Wise and a Rational Governour, he cannot but
direct them to a certain end.17

Without such an active God and the frequent signs of His intervening

power, man, it was believed, would wander lost in a world governed by

"chance" or the whims of purely secular powers.18

Because of a conviction that man's vision was limited, divines

throughout the period found it necessary to distinguish between "chance"

or "fortune" and Divine Providence. For most religious writers, God's

control of His creatures stood in direct opposition to beliefs in the

merely whimsical nature of creation.19 Thomas Burnet, speaking of the

Epicurean notion of a "chance" coalition of atoms, a "material" theory

of creation, states in The Sacred Theory of the Earth that "'tis little

better than non-sence, to say the World and all its furniture rise by

chance, in that notion of it."20 Isaac Barrow, discussing the inter-

positions of God which sometimes even "alter the course of nature",

insists that this is done as the "fuller and clearer illustration [John

IX.3] of his glory, the shewing that all things do not pass on in a

fatal track".21 Robert South, in a sermon based on Proverbs 16.33, a

commonly cited providential passage,22 says that "as all Contingencies

are comprehended by a certain Divine Knowledge, so they are governed by

as certain and steady a Providence",23 and further, that "God's Hand is

as steady as his Eye," able "thus to reduce Contingency to Method, In-

stability and Chance it self to an unfailing Rule and Order".24 John

Tillotson in "A Thanksgiving-Sermon for the Late Victory at Sea" states

that political wisdom or success also depends upon "an unaccountable

mixture of that which the Heathen called Fortune, but we Christians by

its true name, the Providence of God; which does interpose in human

Affairs, and loves to confound the wisdom of the wise, and to turn their

counsels into foolishness."25 Samuel Clarke, in his Discourse upon

Natural Religion, states of the power of God that:

Again; 'Tis a thing absolutely and necessarily Fitter
in it self, that the Supreme Author and Creator of the
Universe, should govern, order, and direct all things
to certain and constant regular Ends, than that every
thing should be permitted to go on at adventures, pro-
duce uncertain Effects merely by chance and in the ut-
most co usion, without any determinate View or Design
at all.

As William Law states in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life,

nothing in the life of individual men and the creation is left to chance:

We are as sure that nothing happens to us by
chance, as that the world itself was not made by
chance; we are as certain that all things happen
and work together for our good, as that God is good-
ness itself. So that a man has as much reason to will
every thing that happens to him, because God wills it,
as to think that is wisest which is directed by
infinite wisdom.27

In the terms of the age, to say that "chance" ruled in the world was to

imply in effect that God had abdicated His position as the center of all

things, as the sustainer of all existence, and subsequently that justice,

mercy, and order itself had ceased to exist. The implications of a uni-

verse ruled by chance are best described by John Tillotson in his sermon

"Success Not Always Answerable to the Probability of Second Causes":

Were there not in the World a Being, that is wiser,
and better, and more powerful than our selves, and

that keeps things from running into endless confusion
and disorder; a Being that loves us, and takes care
of us, and that will certainly consider and reward
all the good that we do, and all the evil that we
suffer upon his account. I do not see what reason
any man could have to take any comfort and joy in
Being, 2 to wish the continuance of it for one

If indeed man were ruled by the "stars," or predestined by the dictates

of a "fate," it was believed that he was no longer a "reasonable" person,

but rather a grotesque and expendable cog in some vast machine going no-

where and accomplishing nothing. "Fortune," usually depicted as "blind,"

dispensing its "gifts" without apparent plan or purpose, cannot signifi-

cantly differentiate between men as species and man as individual.

Under the guidance of "Providence," however, man, marked by both indi-

viduation and personality, became part of a good plan as a specific being

having intrinsic worth from the moment of his birth.29 Thus, a belief in

Providence precludes the "coincidental" or "accidental" (though not such

events as "seem" to be mere coincidence or accident), for such terms

have no valid "meaning" for reasonable creatures, and imply simply a

lack of understanding of the particular workings of Providence. In the

"real" world, whether it be a shipwreck or the fall of a prince, an un-

timely death or a last-minute reprieve of an innocent man, it was Provi-

dence and not fortune at work. Not that man was to remain passive,

blindly accepting every event of his life as "God's will" in the sense

that he became merely an inert tool in the hand of a master-craftsman;

rather he was to be watchful for those moments when God's will and man's

purpose intersected for the accomplishment of some larger public or

private good.

Believing that God watches over both the "species" and the "indivi-

dual," English divines emphasized a doctrine of "general" and "particular"

Providence, and a consequent system of "rewards" and "punishments" in-

voked both in this life and in the next.30 General Providence was appar-

ent in such things as the creation of the world, the sustaining of that

world and of mankind, the upholding or destroying of kingdoms, and was

sometimes stressed at the expense of a particular or "special" Providence

concerned for the well-being of even the lowliest of creatures. George

Hakewill thus states that God's "Providence reacheth both to generally

and individuals, but to generally more especially (because they more

immediately conduce to the perfection of the world, and consequently to

the advancement of his honour) but to the individuals in relation to

their generally."31 The more common position, however, is that of Isaac

Barrow, who saw them of equal significance and importance, simply as two

manifestations of the same Divine power, "general in the government of

mankind; particular in God's dealing with each single person."32

English religious writers often stress that since it is difficult

for man to discern the exact meaning of God's purpose in a particular

instance, he should beware of judging God by human standards. John

Wilkins speaks to this point when he warns: "And tho' some particular

Dispensations may seem unto us to be difficult and obscure, His Judgments

being unsearchable, and his ways past finding out; yet we may be most

sure, that there is an excellent Contrivance in all of them, Though clouds

and darkness may be round about him, yet righteousness and judgment are

the habitation of his throne."33 In other words, it is God's will and

not man's that is paramount. Indeed, as William Sherlock states, to

trust in Providence "is not to trust in God, that he will do that partic-

ular thing for us which we desire; but to trust our selves and all our

concernments with God, to do for us in every particular case which we

recommend to his care, what he sees best and fittest for us in such

cases."34 Man must bear in mind that God "reserves to himself a liberty

to judge whether it be good for us; but if what we desire be good for us,

our trust and dependence on God will engage Providence on our side."35

Added to these elements was the belief that men and kingdoms, princes

and paupers, were rewarded or punished according to their just deserts,

certainly in the next world and frequently, as marks of God's special

concern, in this one. Despite the fact that in this world, as Francis

Atterbury states, "Good and Bad Men are blended together," and that some-

times "we are molested by the One, as well as benefited by the other,"36

the special Providence of God often works, as Atterbury states in another

sermon, "in order to have its influence on Things below observed and

acknowledged; which would go near to be forgotten, did he not, by some

remarkable instances of his Interposition in human Affairs, raise Men

up at fit Times, into a lively and vigorous Sense of it."37

The major difficulty facing those who spoke for belief in a "special"

Providence, one which at times even set the "Laws of Nature" or "proba-

bility" at variance for the direct support of a single person or cause,

was to show that the workings of such a Providence did in no way dimin-

ish the importance of a more "general" one. Jeremy Taylor speaks to

this issue by saying of God that:

His providence is extra-regular, and produces
strange things beyond common rules; and he that led
Israel through a sea, and made a rock pour forth
waters, and the heavens to give them bread and flesh,
and whole armies to be destroyed with fantastic
noises, and the fortune of all France to be recovered
and entirely revolved by the arms and conduct of a
girl, against the torrent of the English fortune and
chivalry, can do what he please, and still retain the
same providence over mankind as ever. And it is im-
possible for that man to despair who remembers that
his helper is omnipotent, and can do what he pleases.38


For John Wilkins, if there were no "particular Providence"39 the "good"

would be left to suffer alone, without "reward" for their righteousness,

in a vicious world: "What could be a greater disparagement to divine

Providence, than to permit the Calamities and Sufferings which good Men

undergo in this World, many times upon the account of religion, to pass

unrewarded; and the many Mischiefs and Prophanations, which wicked Men

take the advantage of committing by their Greatness and Prosperity in

this World to go unpunished?"40

It was common for divines to use as examples of this particular

Providence those times when the helpless, the despondent, the unlikely,

or the prideful were singled out for such rewards or punishments as they

deserved. There was, as Robert South stated, "not the least thing that

falls within the cognizance of Man, but is directed by the counsel of

God. Not an Hair can fall from our Head, nor a Sparrow to the Ground,

without the Will of our Heavenly Father."41 No one could be sure of

knowing at the time the exact purpose behind events, for often even man's

despondency or his failure was the very means used by God to effect His

desired end. A belief in Providence should indeed cause a man to beware

of despairing in the face of even dreadful calamities:

therefore, let no Man who owns the Belief of a
Providence, grow desperate, or forlorn, under any
Calamity, or Straight whatsoever; but,compose the
Anguish of his Thoughts, and rest his amazed Spirits
upon this one Consideration, That he knows not which
way the Lot may fall, or what may happen to him; he
comprehends not those strange, unaccountable Methods,
by which Providence may dispose of him.

For Tillotson, this special Providence of God "which sometimes presents

men with unexpected opportunities, and interposeth accidents which no

human wisdom could foresee," also "gives success to very unlikely means,

and defeats the swift, and the strong, and the learned, and the indus-

trious."43 The probable times for a particular intervention by God were


even capable of being systematized into lists of "rules." For example,

Isaac Barrow argues that occasions of Providence could be inferred from

such marks as the "wonderful strangeness of events";44 or "when plots,

with extreme caution and secrecy contrived in darkness are by improbable

means, by unaccountable accidents, disclosed and brought to light" (458);

or the seasonablenesss or suddenness of events. When that, which in

itself is not ordinary, nor could well be expected, doth fall out happily,

in the nick of an exigency, for the relief of innocence, the encourage-

ment of goodness, the support of a good cause, the furtherance of any

good purpose" (460); or the "righteousness of the case" itself (465); or

the "correspondence of events to the prayers and desires of good men"

(466); or God's "dispensing rewards and punishments" according to men's

just deserts to fit the "actions upon which they are grounded" (467);

or, and most pertinent to Pamela, those times whenever:

right is oppressed, or perilously invaded, when
innocence is grossly abused, or sorely beset;
when piety is fiercely opposed, or cunningly
undermined; when good men for the profession of
truth, or the practice of virtue, are persecuted,
or grievously threatened with mischief; then may
we presume that God is not unconcerned, nor will
prove backward to reach forth his succour (466).

George Hickes, in a "list" similar to Barrow's, offers as a prime example

of God's special intervention those times when His assistance "falls out

very seasonably for the Relief and Vindication of oppressed Innocence,"45

while John Wilkins emphasizes those extraordinary Providences which "have

many times happened...for the punishing of obstinate Sinners and for the

Deliverance of such as were Religious, in answer to their Prayers."46

Thus man, in all situations, is to rely upon God and look to His

power as the only certain support in the world. No action is too great

or too small for God to exert His influence upon, for God to single out

for his special reward or punishment. The innocent, those suffering for

their religion or steadfast in their virtue and reliance upon God, were

most often the objects of His merciful and timely succor, while those

denying the efficacy of His Providence, those who turned their backs on

His teaching or closed their minds to His warnings were liable to feel

His wrath, most assuredly in the next world and frequently in this one.

At times this wrath could extend to the whole world (as in the Deluge);47

at times it could be delayed for purposes of giving the sinner oppor-

tunity to repent. But, whatever happened to the wicked in this world,

as Francis Atterbury states, one could be certain in the knowledge that

"such Irregularities are set right in another",48 and that the innocent,

the oppressed, are under the special protection of a God who "hath so

peculiarly taken upon him the protection of the poor and oppressed, that

he is engaged as it were in honour to be their avenger."49

Coupled with the prevalence of providential language and situation

in Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison, and viewed within the context of

a theology which was vitally concerned with the manifestations of Divine

Providence in the natural world, such statements as these by Richardson

and his friends, as well as those by English divines, surely suggest

that his use of Providence in his first novel was not merely casual or



Chapter Three

correspondence, II, pp. 32, 33.

2Slattery, p. 60.

3Correspondence, V, p. 273.

Cf. Correspondence, III, p. 264.
5Correspondence, III, p. 49.

6Correspondence, IV, p. 85.

7Correspondence, VI, p. 3.

8Correspondence, V, p. 196.

9Charles F. Mullett, The Letters of Doctor George Cheyne to Samuel
Richardson (1733-1743), (University of Missouri Studies, XVIII, 1,
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1943), p. 97. See also Cheyne's
statement to Richardson that: "I have been and am an unworthy Instrument
in the Hands of Providence to preserve and I hope in Time to recover into
good Health and Spirits an honest and serious Man to his Family and
Friends" (113).

10A View of the Principal Deistical Writers that Have Appeared in
England in the Last and Present Century. Two Volumes. (London, 1798),
Vol. I, p. 450. Richardson printed Vol. II of this book. See W.M. Sale,
Jr., Samuel Richardson: Master Printer, p. 184.

1A Compleat History of the Most Remarkable Providences both of
Judgment and Mercy. Which Have Hapned in This Present Age. (London,
1697), p. 105.
12To the thoughtful man, especially to the Christian, all creation
was a living book attesting to the power and concern of God; as Sir
Thomas Browne saw it, "To thoughtful observators, the whole world is a
phylactery; and everything we see an item of the wisdom, power, or good-
ness of God". Sir Thomas Browne's Works. Including His Life and Cor-
respondence, ed., Simon Wilkin, F.L.S., 4 vols (London: W. Pickering,
1835-36), IV, "Christian Morals," Part the Third, p. 99. According to
A.D. McKillop, Samuel Richardson, Printer and Novelist, p. 188, Johnson
gave Richardson a copy of the "Christian Morals".

13The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker
with an Account of His Life and Death by Isaac Walton, arranged by the Rev.
John Keble, M.A., 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1888), I, p. 236.

14The Principles of the Christian Religion Explained: In a Brief
Commentary upon the Church-Catechism (London, 1731), p. 135.

15The Works, 10 vols. (Dublin, 1739), I, p. 427. Richardson mentions
Tillotson along with Balguy in the answer to Stinstra cited in note 26,
Chapter One. Also, quotations from a Tillotson sermon close out "A Con-
cluding Note by the Editor" appended to Sir Charles Grandison, Vol. VI,
p. 330 of the Shakespeare Head Edition.

16p. 31.
Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions (Lon-
don, 1704), Sermon VIII, p. 326. South is mentioned in Clarissa, II,
p, 194.

18As John Balguy said: "Were the World without a Governour, or with-
out a Governour of infinite Wisdom and Perfection, the Nature and Circum-
stances of Mankind would be a Scene of mere Disorder and Confusion." The
Foundation of Moral Goodness, p. 90, British Moralists.

19While there were many religious controversies in the Eighteenth
Century, the most significant, especially for Providentialists, grew out
of the earlier Epicurean notion of a "chance" or "materialistic" creation
of the world. Thus, when in Richardson's circle such terms or classifi-
cations as "Deist" or "Atheist" were lumped together with "Epicurean",
it was not "whimsical" or "naive" but rather, it seems to me, done with a
view toward exposing the total incompatibility of such ideas with ortho-
dox Christian belief in Divine Providence and the continual concern of
God for His creation. Thomas Edwards, in a letter to Richardson (Jan. 15,
1755), states it best when, after agreeing with Richardson's assessment
of Bolingbroke, he comments: "I know not whether his system may be more
properly called deistical, or atheistical; since, though in words he
allows a God, he seems to make him such a one as Epicurus did; and to
think that we are beneath his notice, and have very little or nothing to
do with him. He laughs at all notions of revelation, or a particular
providence, and reckons the present life the whole of man's existence."
Correspondence, III, p. 109. For Richardson's own discussion of Deism
and Atheism, see Part Three of the Vade Mecum. While the literature
concerning orthodox attacks on Epicurean philosophy is extensive, a good
example is provided by the "Prefaces" to Thomas Creech's translation T.
Lucretius Carus, Of the Nature of Things, 2 vols (London, 1714).

20The Sacred Theory of the Earth, with an introduction by Basil
Willey (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois Press, 1965), Book II,
p. 208. Richardson printed part of this; see Sale, p. 154.

21he Theological Works, V, pp. 267-268.

22"The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is
of the LORD."

23Twelve Sermons, p. 321.

24Twelve Sermons, p. 322.

25The Works, II, p. 457.

26Discourse upon Natural Religion, 1st ed., 1706; rpt. British
Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth
Century, ed., L.A. Selby-Bigge, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon, 1897), II,
p. 5. Richardson mentions Clarke in his answer to Stinstra, cited in
note 26, Chapter One.

27The Works of the Reverend William Law, A.M., 9 vols (London, 1762),
IV, p. 456. Richardson printed Law's The Oxford Methodists, and The Way
to Divine Knowledge, Sale, p. 183.

28The Works, II, p. 357.

29Earlier discussions of this are numerous. As Aquinas points out,
buttressing his arguments against "fate" with quotations from Augustine
and Gregory, God, through His Providence, directs the actions of the
rational creature "not only as belonging to the species, but also as
personal acts." On the Truth of the Catholic Faith. Summa Contra Gen-
tiles. Book Three: Providence. Part I, translated with an introduction
and notes by Vernon J. Bourke (New York: Hanover House, 1956), p. 224.
Foreshadowing Aquinas's statement is the one by the early Church Father,
Origen, who in his Contra Celsum, IV. 99, states that "God does not take
care, as Celsus imagines, only of the universe as a whole, but in addition
to that He takes particular care of every rational being. And providence
will never abandon the universe. For even if some part of it becomes
very bad because the rational being sins, God arranges to purify it, and
after a time to turn the whole world back to himself." Origen: Contra
Celsum, translated with an introduction and notes by Henry Chadwick
(Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1953), p. 263; Richard-
son cites Origen on page 78 of the Vade Mecum. Similar statements from
the writings of early Christian polemicists are frequent, but one of the
most cogent is that of St. Augustine who views God as a Being having
"special care of every one of us, as if thou hadst care but of one alone;
and so regardest all, as if but single persons!" St. Augustine's Confes-
sions. With an English Translation by William Watts (1631), 2 vols.
(London: Loeb, 1919), Book III, Chapt. XI, p. 139.

30The ways of illustrating the workings of Providence and the pos-
ition of man are manifold during the period. For example, general and
particular Providence were frequently illustrated by the "wheel within
a wheel" of Ezekiel. See Richardson's friend, Edward Young's An Argument
Drawn from the Circumstances of Christ's Death for the Truth of His
Religion. A Sermon Preached before His Majesty, at Kensington, June,
1758, from Edward Young. The Complete Works. Poetry and Prose, ed.,
James Nichols, with a life of the author by John Doran (1854), 2 vols,
(Facsimile reproduced from a copy in the library of the University of
Gattingen-Hildesheim, 1968), II, p. 545. According to Sale, a copy of
this sermon was sent to Richardson to proof and criticize, and was
printed by him. Sale, pp. 216-217.

31An Apologie of the Power and Providence of God in the Government
of the World (Oxford, 1627), Liber V, p. 23.

32he Theological Works, II, p. 46.

330f the Principles and Duties of Natural Religion: Two Books (Lon-
don, 1734), p. 212.

34A Discourse Concerning the Divine Providence (London, 1694), p.
374. Richardson mentions Sherlock's "noble Discourses" in Correspondence,
III, p. 107.

35William Sherlock, Discourse, p. 377.

36Fourteen Sermons Preach'd on Several Occasions (London, 1708),
p. 383.

37Forty Three Sermons and Discourses on Several Subjects and Occas-
ions (London, 1742), p. 129.

38oly Living and Dying with Prayers Containing the Whole Duty of a
Christian and the Parts of Devotion Fitted to All Occasions, and Furnished
for All Necessities (1650, 1651; rpt. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1907), from
Holy Living, p. 171; Richardson mentions Taylor's Holy Living and Dying in
Correspondence, IV, p. 237.

390f the Principles and Duties of Natural Religion, p. 114.

40Natural Religion, p. 153.

4Twelve Sermons, p. 323.

42welve Sermons, p. 357.

43The Works, II, p. 345.

44The Theological Works, I, p. 455; cited in text.

45A Collection of Sermons, 2 vols (London, 1713), II, p. 34.

46Natural Religion, p. 77.

47Patrick Delany, Revelation Examin'd With Candour (London, 1732),
p. 184. Richardson printed this book; see Sale, p. 165. See also Thomas
Burnet, Sacred Theory of the Earth, Book I, Chapter VIII, p. 82 ff.

48Fort Three Sermons, p. 131. Richardson printed Atterbury's
Maxims, Reflections and Observations, Divine, Moral and Political...To
which is added, His Lordship's Latin version of Mr. Dryden's Absalom and
Achitophol (London, 1723); Sale, p. 147.

49The Whole Duty of Man, p. 232.


"To avoid the Tempter": the Bedfordshire section of Pamela.

In the year following her lady's death, Pamela is revealed as an

innocent fifteen-year-old waiting-maid who has lived, for the most part,

a sheltered, almost sequestered, life. Her religious training, and the

religious example of her parents and Lady B., have instilled in her a

belief in the necessity for moral behavior and a trust in the goodness of

man. This trust is evident from her first letter, where, in writing to

her parents about the death of Lady B., she views as an indication of

God's "Graciousness" (a "Graciousness" which her parents and herself

"have so often experienced at a Pinch") the fact that she was particularly

recommended to the young Squire for his protection. Grateful that she

will not be sent home "to be a Clog upon" her "dear Parents" (25), she

assures them that, since God will not let her "want" (26), and since her

master is kind and good, there is hope that all will turn out for the best.

Pamela's initial assessment of Mr. B., dependent as it is upon her

religious upbringing and innocent trust, indicates that she is a person

who believes that this training and trust are common to everyone. Mr. B.,

"dutiful to his Parents", and presently showing great kindness to her, is

for Pamela the "best of Gentlemen" (26) and she views his actions as evi-

dence that her life will continue as it has in the past. Her parents,

however, wiser in the ways of the world, promptly warn her to beware of

placing too much trust in the young Squire and to return home in the event

that his actions prove dishonorable. Troubled by this warning, Pamela

nevertheless quickly assures them that "by God's Grace" she "never will

do any thing that shall bring" their "grey Hairs with Sorrow to the Grave"

(28), tells them of the "good Counsel" of Mrs. Jervis (30), and continues

to praise the goodness of Mr. B., whose gifts and kindnesses soon make him

appear "like an Angel" to her (31). That evil may be present in Mr. B. is

less a reality to Pamela at this point than a remote possibility. Even if

the Squire has ulterior motives for his goodness to her, she hopes that

God's "Grace" will enable her to withstand temptation and that she will

have sufficient strength of character to return home in safety. Following

the incident of the "Summer-house," however, she no longer is able to dis-

regard the possibility that her parents' fears were correct, and from that

time the major movement of the novel begins.

Following her parents' second warning, Pamela learns that Lady Davers,

when told that Mr. B. was not considering her for a position within the

Davers household (ostensibly out of a fear of the possible designs of Lord

Davers's young nephew), "shook her Head, and said Ah! Brother" (33). Al-

though for Mrs. Jervis this exclamation portended possible trouble,

Pamela herself expresses hope that "God...will give" her "his Grace" to

withstand whatever may occur and that "there is no Occasion" for fear (33).

Promising to keep her parents informed so that they can "continue" to

give her their "good Advice" and prayers, she remains hopeful that nothing

dishonorable is intended. What follows, however, are two attacks on her

virtue. Although for Pamela herself these incidents reveal that Mr. B.,

his lust no longer hidden, has changed from seeming to be an "Angel of a

Master" into a man whose "true Colours" are "black and...frightful" (34),

what commences at this point is both the struggle within Mr. B. between

his lust and his good qualities, and a process whereby Pamela's confident

beliefs are tested in a trial which ultimately enables her to obtain,

after much confusion and despair, a fuller awareness of the workings of

God in the world.1

Unable to control his passion, Mr. B.'s first overture ends embar-

rassingly when Pamela refuses to submit to his desires and staunchly lec-

tures him on the relative duties of masters and servants. Although he

attempts to salvage his bruised dignity by telling her he only meant to

"try" her prudence, Mr. B. also cautions her not to tell anyone of his

actions (35). While his pride of condition and birth is intact, and his

lust undiminished,Mr. B. appears afraid of the opinion of others, and his

fear is even more pronounced during his second attempt. At that time,

Pamela's kneeling supplication for "pity" results instead in an effort to

assault her. Calling upon the "Angels, and Saints, and all the Host of

Heaven" to defend her (41), she saves herself by running into an adjacent

room and locking the door.2 Seeing through the key-hole that she had

fallen into a fit, Mr. B. calls for Mrs. Jervis and with her help bursts

open the door. As he leaves them, the Squire first cautions Mrs. Jervis

to "say nothing of the Matter" and then stays "in the next Room to let

nobody come near" them so "that his foul Proceedings might not be known"


The failure Mr. B. has met with has wounded his pride, made him dis-

regard his own position, and caused his lust so to intensify as to make

him almost deaf to all religious admonishments, and to the efficacy of the

beliefs which Pamela so persistently clings to.3 More important than

this, however, is that either the fear of the presence of others, or, in

the case of the second attempt, the proximity of Mrs. Jervis, is enough to

force him to quit his attacks before they succeed. What is being estab-

lished here, and what becomes even more apparent later, is the fact that

in the context of a Bedfordshire, within the confines of a well-ordered

estate, Mr. B.'s attempts have little chance of success. While this is

important in providing a practical as well as technical reason for Pamela's

abduction to Lincolnshire, it also should be kept in mind that, within

such an environment, the efficacy of her appeals to God for preservation

can be overlooked; the ready availability of strictly human support may

plausibly blur any awareness of Divine concern for her plight. In Bed-

fordshire her trust is largely placed in the support and concern of man,

a "natural" context, but a context which will prepare us for the later,

and "supernaturally" supported, survival of Pamela's virtue.

The scenes immediately preceding Mr. B.'s most serious attack, the

incident of Mrs. Jervis's "Chamber," continue to display both his own

developing pride, which soon causes him to appear almost "Satanic" to

Pamela, and her own growing bewilderment and hope for assistance in the

face of his increasing hostility. As the Squire attempts to soothe his

wounded pride, and to control the lust which increasingly is in conflict

with his desire to act honorably, he imperiously "accuses" Pamela of

hypocrisy, or of viewing him as a "Devil incarnate", or of using his

"Name with Freedom" (45). Perplexed by the changes in a master who,

heretofore, has appeared to be all goodness, Pamela comes to rely more

frequently on the strength derived from her early training and faith. The

delay in her return home soon allows further opportunity for her to try to

make sense of her present situation, and, subsequently, further opportunity

for her beliefs to be tested. When Mrs. Jervis attempts to calm her, by

suggesting that Mr. B's growing love is responsible for his alteration

from a "fine Gentleman" with a "great deal of Wit and Sense" into a temp-

ter, Pamela replies: "I hope, if I was sure he would be kind to me, and

never turn me off at all, that God will give me his Grace, so as to hate

and withstand his Temptations, were he not only my Master, but my King,

for the Sin's sake; and this my poor dear Parents have always taught me"

(49). And against Mrs. Jervis's well-intentioned efforts at reconcilia-

tion, Pamela states that to remain in Bedfordshire after the recent

attacks would be to imply that she was consenting to her own ruin. Al-

though she hopes at this point that God will give her the "Grace" to "not

give way to" the Squire's "Temptations on any Account", she nevertheless

feels "it would be very presumptuous...to rely upon" her "own Strength,

against a Gentleman of his Qualifications and Estate, and who is" her

"master" (50). Stating that "Every thing turns about for the best" (53),

she tries to calm her fears by relying on the hope that she will soon

return home. Mr. B., however, increasingly infuriated over his lack of

success, berates Pamela on numerous occasions, and causes Mrs. Jervis to

comment finally that: "This Love is the D__.1! in how many strange

Shapes does it make People shew themselves! And in some the farthest from

their Hearts" (55). A nice observation, for Mr. B. has descended from

appearing as almost "an Angel" to being viewed as one who, like Satan,

"accuses" or "tempts" the good, with his "love" further causing him to

appear in "strange Shapes," a phenomenon reminiscent of the Miltonic Satan

and of the protean nature of evil itself.

The assault which takes place in Mrs. Jervis's "Chamber" provides

another example of Mr. B.'s pride and fear of public opinion, and, in

Pamela's actions, a hope for Divine assistance mixed with reliance upon

human support. Writing to her parents after the attempt, Pamela, almost

despairing of human justice since Mr. B. is himself a "Justice" and

"greater than any Constable" or "Headborough", hopes that "God Almighty...

in time, will right" her for the wrongs she has suffered, and proceeds to

tell them of how she has been "so barbarously used" (64). Now viewing

Mr. B. as possessing the "worst Heart in the World" (65), she relates how


she and Mrs. Jervis had been discussing his recent behavior not knowing

that he was then hiding in their closet. Commenting on the bad advice

Mrs. Jervis recently had given her, which resulted in the incident of the

"going-away dress," Pamela states that Mr. B.'s half-crazed actions on

that occasion are indications to her that "Lucifer always is ready to

promote his own Work and Workmen" (65).4 Shortly after this assessment

of Mr. B.'s further degeneration, the Squire himself "rushes" into the

room and moves toward the bed. Terrified, Pamela appeals "for God's sake!

for Pity's sake" (66) that Mrs. Jervis protect her, and, if necessary,

that she "raise all the House" (67). Throwing herself upon Pamela's coat

and clasping her around the waist, Mrs. Jervis, despite threats that she

will be dismissed, calls upon Mr. B. to stop and appeals to God that He

"defend" her "poor Pamela" (67). Continuing to place herself between

Pamela and the Squire, Mrs. Jervis refuses to leave the room. It is only

after Pamela falls into "Fit after Fit" and after he warns Mrs. Jervis to

"conceal the Matter" that Mr. B. retires. Later, she relates to her

parents her belief that, despite Mr. B.'s liberties, Mrs. Jervis "saved"

her "from worse" (67), and is thankful for her timely assistance. Once

again, Mr. B.'s fear of what others might say and the proximity of human

support save Pamela from an imminent danger.

At the meeting following this assault, Mr. B., having regained his

composure and remaining adamant in his refusal to relent in the dismissal

of Mrs. Jervis, correctly surmises that Pamela "has made a Party of the

whole House in her Favour against" him (68), and then ignores the house-

keeper's attempts to bring him to an awareness of the seriousness of his

actions. Affecting at this point to be indifferent to Pamela, and even

hinting of his proposed marriage to a lady of quality, Mr. B. assures

them that he has "overcome" his recent passion (69). At first Pamela


fears that these evidences of "Repentance and Amendment are mighty suddenly

resolved upon", but quickly comforts herself, relying on teachings that

since "God's Grace is not confin'd to Space," it is possible that this

"Grace" has "smote him to the Heart at once, for his Injuries to" her (70).

Despite this hope, she nevertheless resolves to remain cautious.5

Although the Squire now appears "very civil" (70), Pamela soon has

further opportunities to assess the present character of a man whom she

previously thought to be the "best of Gentlemen". During a meeting

shortly after his decision to allow her to leave, Mr. B. asks her judgment

on the suitableness of his "Birthday" clothes.6 Remarking to herself on

the beauty of this "rich Suit of Cloaths", Pamela, unlike her earlier

comments on his "Angel-like" qualities, now only hopes that "they make

him an honest Man, as he was always thought; but I have not found it so,

God help me" (70). Now awed by his "grand" appearance, and yet in a

sense saddened by the alterations in his initial character, she tries to

make him see the spiritual danger he is in as a result of his recent

actions. She warns him, in a statement directly pertinent to much of the

action in this section, that if he "could be so afraid of" his "own Ser-

vants knowing of" his "Attempts upon a poor unworthy Creature, that is

under" his "Protection while" in his household, "surely" he "ought to be

more afraid of God Almighty, in whose Presence we all stand, in every

Action of our Lives, and to whom the greatest as well as the least, must

be accountable, let them think what they list" (71). Mr. B., however,

stung by this remark, reverts to his former attitude and scoffs at her

"unfashionable Jargon", ridiculing her "romantic Turn for Virtue, and all

that" (71). This failure to move her master causes Pamela, almost in

desperation, first to comment on "how easy it is to go from bad to worse,

when once People give way to Vice" (72), and then to ask God both to

bless her and send her "out of this Wicked House" where "there is not the

Fear of God, and good Rule kept by" its head (73).

The closing scenes of the Bedfordshire section, in particular Mr.

B.'s "proposals," serve as a concise summation of the general movement of

the novel so far. Trying one last time to induce Pamela to stay, Mr. B.

offers to make all her family happy and admits that he has been "awaken'd

to see more Worthiness in" her than he "ever...saw in any Lady in the

World" (83).7 Continuing, he swears "as God is my Witness" (84), that he

intends no injury to her by this confession, that he has no ulterior mo-

tive in mind in this instance. Pamela, however, unable to forget his

recent attempts on her and his near success, answers: "I cannot, Sir,

believe you after what has passed! How many Ways are there to undo poor

Creatures! Good God, protect me this one time, and send me to my poor

Father's Cot in Safety" (84). Infuriated, as he generally is by referen-

ces to Divine support throughout the initial section, Mr. B., directly

alluding to the struggle which has almost consumed his good qualities,

states: "Strange, damn'd Fate...that when I speak so solemnly, I can't

be believed...My Pride of Birth and Fortune, (damn them both!...since they

cannot obtain Credit with you, but must add to your Suspicions) will not

let me stoop at once; and I ask you but for a Fortnight's Stay, that after

this Declaration, I may pacify these proud Demands upon me" (84). At

this, Pamela begins to recite the Lord's Prayer, and, although Mr. B.

tells her to stop and jokingly refers to her as "a perfect Nun," she

concludes, with eyes "lifted up to Heaven, Lead me not into Temptation.

But deliver me from Evil, 0 my good God" (84). Amused, Mr. B. leaves her

alone to consider his "proposal."

Immediately following this meeting, Pamela "tortur'd with twenty

different Thoughts in a Minute" (84), debates with herself over the wisdom

of staying an extra fortnight. At first, she thinks that to stay could do

no harm, especially with Mrs. Jervis present to give her the same protec-

tion which had been sufficient to preserve her on numerous occasions in

the past. Not content with this reasoning, she then worries that she

might have greater difficulty withstanding Mr. B.'s kindness than his

anger, yet is able to counter this fear by hoping that "the same Protec-

ting Grace" in which she previously has confided would be sufficient to

prevent such a danger. While wishing to believe that Mr. B.'s open avowal

of "love" is honorable and that it implies a sincere desire to abandon his

attempts upon her, she nevertheless comments finally upon the major flaw

in his proposal by stating: "He talks, thought I, of his Pride of Heart,

and Pride of Condition; 0 these are in his Head, and in his Heart too, or

he would not confess them to me at such an Instant. Well then, thought I,

this can only be to seduce me" (84). Carrying her reasoning a step

further, she notes that if he is insincere it would be easy for him "to

send Mrs. Jervis and the Maids out of the way...so that all the Mischief

he designed" her "might be brought about in less than that Time" (84).

Resolving to "trust all to Providence," she decides to decline his offers,

no matter how generous, and return home (84, 85).

At their next meeting, Pamela is promised money, and, in place of

himself for her husband, an offer of some worthy man to "protect" her

"Virtue" (86). Immediately suspicious, and in yet another statement re-

vealing the alteration which lust and pride have made in her master's

initial character, she muses: "0 black, perfidious Creature...what an

Implement art thou in the Hands of Lucifer, to ruin the innocent Heart"

(86). Discovering that Mr. B. has his Lincolnshire chaplain, Mr. Williams,

in mind for her husband, and a generous allowance for her parents, she

requests additional time to consider these offers. Granted this, she

rejoices to be free of him and states:

0 what a Scene of Wickedness was here laid down for
all my wretched Life. Black-hearted Wretch! How I
hate him!-For at first, as you'll see by what I have
written, he would have made me believe other things;
and this of Mr. Williams, I believe, came into his
Head after he walked out from his Closet, as I suppose,
to give himself time to think, as well as me, how to
delude me better: But the Covering was now too thin,
and easy to be seen through (86).

After this observation on the transparency of Mr. B.'s contrivances,

Pamela completely rejects his proposal, and, instead of being returned

home, is abducted to Lincolshire.

One of the most striking features of the Bedfordshire section is Mr.

B.'s "progression" from the "best of Gentlemen" to an "Implement...in the

Hands of Lucifer," from seeming to be "an Angel" to being revealed as a

"Black-hearted Wretch." Accompanying his changing character and appear-

ance is the growth of his pride, which however much he struggles against,

nevertheless prods him into devising various "contrivances" designed to

dominate and ruin an innocent maidservant. Initial rebuffs and appeals

to God on the part of this terrified and frequently confused maidservant

prompt a reaction that increasingly is arrogant and seemingly indifferent

to any moral or ethical considerations. Rather than admit to any wrong-

doing himself, he consistently places the blame upon others, most notably

Pamela, and appears shocked that he is not held in reverence by his own

servants. He continually demands to be respected as a "Master," and yet

acts in a way suggestive of a brute. Instead of being the "best of

Gentlemen," supposedly a good example to his servants, his pride and grow-

ing delight in "contrivances" reveal him to be a man in serious danger of

becoming in fact a "Workman" of "Lucifer," and a master totally lacking

in the "Fear of God" (73) which alone can insure the continuation of a

well-ordered household. When he finds Pamela's "Virtue was not to be

subdu'd", he finally abducts her (89). This abduction, crowning as it

does his other acts of pride, sets in motion not only Pamela's most severe

trials but also his own. In the following section, as Pamela's beliefs

come to be tested, Mr. B. must come to learn, through her example, the

folly of both pride and immorality.

The episodes thus far examined also demonstrate the limited nature of

Pamela's awareness of the validity, in the real world, of the doctrines

and beliefs which she tacitly has accepted from her elders. Her awareness

at this point is limited by virtue of the human condition itself, by the

difficulty which man has, especially within a providential world order, in

comprehending at the time of occurrence the larger significance of events

which seem, on the surface at least, to be without purpose, or even anti-

thetical to the preservation of the good. It is only after her abduction

that a steady alteration in the nature of her appeals to God is noticeable.

Writing from Mr. B.'s Lincolshire estate, she describes her departure from

Bedfordshire and mentions that as she was preparing to leave, the Steward,

Longman, assured her that, although returning to the poverty of her par-

ents's home, "Providence" would "find" her out and "reward" her for her

goodness (95). This statement represents only the second time "Providence"

is mentioned in the initial Bedfordshire scenes. The first time, as noted

earlier, occurred when she was determining to return home despite Mr. B.'s

"generous" offers of material comfort, and represented, significantly, her

initial decision to trust in the active support of a power greater than

herself or her supporters to resolve her present "trials" for the best.8

Generally, however, while in Bedfordshire and under the protection of

concerned servants, there is little chance for her to rely fully upon the

strength which can be derived from Christian beliefs and doctrines.

Although she certainly believes in God, she nevertheless has trouble

throughout this section of the novel in completely relying on His inter-

vening power. That her trial continues and is intensified in isolation

in Lincolnshire, is, in some measure, the result of her need (as well as

that of Mr. B.) to become more aware of a power and justice which are able

to turn misery into a blessing and despair into understanding. That God

is indeed contriving "for the best," actively engaging Himself in her

defense even during these scenes, using as instruments of His Divine power

those very human beings upon whom she has come to rely, becomes evident to

her later in the novel, and, like most humans, only after the severest

testing of her beliefs. At this point in her story, however, all is ob-

scure, with the only certainty for her being the necessity to flee her

present temptations.


Chapter Four

1The "testing" of Pamela and her growing awareness or perception
has been noted by recent critics, notably Dorothy Parker, "The Time Scheme
of Pamela and the Character of B.," TSLL, XI (1969), 695-704; John A.
Dussinger, "What Pamela Knew: An Interpretation," JEGP, LXIX, 3 (July,
1970), 377-393; Stuart Wilson, "Richardson's Pamela: An Interpretation,"
PMLA, 88, 1 (January, 1973), 79-91. While they do not credit him, William
Hazlitt suggested as much when he stated of Pamela that "the interest of
the story increases with the dawn of understanding and reflection in the
heroine: her sentiments gradually expand themselves, like opening
flowers." Works, ed., P.P. Howe, 21 vols (London: Dent, 1930-34), VI,
pp. 118, 119.
Although Pamela relates that she had read this phrase "in a Book a
Night or two before," it still appears to be a spontaneous and sincere
appeal for Divine protection. Despite the fact that she is saved at this
point, the influence of any "Heavenly" assistance seems obscured in her
own mind by the timely arrival of Mrs. Jervis.

3For recent evaluations of Mr. B.'s character and his "pride," see
Needham's "Richardson's Characterization of Mr. B. and Double Purpose in
Pamela"; Parker's "The Time Scheme of Pamela and the Character of B.";
and Dussinger's "What Pamela Knew: An Interpretation," in particular
p. 389 where he notes in passing Mr. B.'s change "from angel to Lucifer,
from master to rake, from childhood friend to seducer": See also M.
Kinkead-Weekes's "Introduction" to the 1962 Everyman Edition of Pamela.

It is interesting to note that Mr. B.'s actions during this scene,
evidence of his increasing struggle, make him appear "mad" to Pamela (62).

5This scene also contains an additional instance of Mr. B.'s con-
tinuing struggle. Still fearful over the adverse opinion of others, he
rightly concludes that he has "rais'd a Hornet's Nest about" his own
"Ears, that, as far as" he knows, "may have stung to Death" his "Repu-
tation" (69). In general, however, he appears more concerned about
"demeaning" himself by hiding in her closet (70) than in owning up to the
seriousness of his recent actions, or acknowledging any power to be
greater than his own.

6Eaves and Kimpel point out: "Birth-day" clothes are a "suit of
clothes to be worn at Court on the King's birthday" (Pamela, fn. 1, p. 70).

7This admission is prepared for by Mr. B.'s earlier statement that
all that has happened "was much against" his "Heart," and done only "in
hopes to frighten" Pamela to his "Purposes" (83). Although he further
claims that her "Behavior before honest Longman" and her words during
the "Bundle" scene (78-81) have caused this change in him (83), the sub-
sequent disparity between his "words" and his "actions," including his
unsettled behavior, reveal that his struggle is continuing.

8It is important, however, for what takes place later in the novel
that she ends on this note of "trust" in the providential support of God.
However unclear to Pamela at present, it pointedly is made clear to her
in the Lincolnshire section that security arises not from a dependence
upon others, but rather from reliance upon a personal and tested strength,
a strength ultimately supplemented and supported by the providential con-
cern of God.


"The unsearchable Wisdom of God":
The Ways of Providence and the Reward of Virtue.

Following Pamela's departure for home and subsequent abduction to

Lincolnshire, Mr. B. disappears from the narrative (at least physically)

for almost seventy pages. Although not personally present, his influence

is felt everywhere, and it soon becomes apparent that he is systematically

isolating her from all human support. For Pamela, this growing isolation,

as well as the fact that she has been "vilely trick'd" (93) and placed

under the control of strangers, soon results in "bewilderment" in the face

of Mr. B.'s contrivances. This initial bewilderment is most noticeable in

her language which, however similar to her diction in Bedfordshire, con-

tains new and significant features.

The most striking feature of the early Lincolnshire scenes, neverthe-

less, is Pamela's continuing dependence, however, accompanied by an in-

creasing hope for direct Divine assistance, upon the support of others.

Having resolved to escape, every effort is made to enlist human assistance.

At first hopeful that the Lincolnshire servants may not be indifferent to

her plight, she soon is disillusioned when they appear instead to be

"devoted" absolutely to Mrs. Jewkes (104). Added to this problem, she

also discovers that Mrs. Jewkes, herself, a formidable obstacle, time and

again answers even minor attempts at deception or appeals to basic human-

ity with swift brutality. Seeing the necessity to set her "Wits at Work,"

and, hoping that "God will favour" her plans to escape, she nevertheless

still hopes for "such an obliging honest-hearted Man as John" to help her

(106). Although this "honest John" soon arrives with a letter from Mr. B.,

whatever hope this raises is quickly destroyed when she discovers that her

master is unchanged. Answering this letter, in which Mr. B. now finds his

promise not to approach her without leave a "Difficulty" (109), she can

find no reason for his actions except that she "is not able to defend

herself, nor has a Friend that can right her" (110). John's disclosures

that he had acted all along as his master's "tool" in Bedfordshire, cause

Pamela, almost in despair, to comment on the Squire's growing corruption

and apparent pleasure at corrupting others (112). She cannot understand

why he seems to take so much pain "to do the Devil's work" (112), and

finds all that is happening to her "strange" and without apparent purpose.

Finally, in a statement similar to the earlier one in Bedfordshire, she

further marvels that her master, previously so afraid of his own servants,

does not fear the "All-seeing Eye" of God, and worries that he will

succeed unless "God" prevents it (112).

Her reliance upon God's support, however, soon is overshadowed by

the presence of Mr. Williams, Mr. B's Lincolnshire Chaplain. Contriving

to exchange correspondence by means of the "two Tiles upon" a "Parsley

bed" (113), Pamela, now hoping for the assistance of the neighboring

gentry, concludes her first letter to him by commenting: "I say no more,

but commit this to the happy Tiles, and to the Bosom of that Earth f.-om

which I hope my Deliverance will take Root, and bring forth such Fruit, as

may turn to my inexpressible Joy, and your eternal Reward, both here and

hereafter" (115). Her desire for earthly human support, momentarily

abandoned before the arrival of Mr. Williams, is further emphasized during

a scene in which Mrs. Jewkes beats her. Stunned, Pamela looks around "as

if" she "wanted somebody to help" her, only to realize that she "had

nobody" (116). Her fear causes her to be "half out of" her "Wits" over

the passion of Mrs. Jewkes, and she attempts to soothe the housekeeper so

that she will not forbid visits to the garden and the chance to continue

the correspondence with Mr. Williams (117).

In his first letter, Mr. Williams replies that he will certainly

attempt to enlist support for Pamela in the neighborhood, and further in-

forms her that they must proceed with caution as even the local "Post-

house" is under the Squire's control (118). In spite of such evidence of

Pamela's growing isolation, Mr. Williams nevertheless assures her that,

although his "whole Dependence is upon the Squire", he "would sooner for-

feit all" his "Hopes upon him, and trust in God for the rest, than not

assist" her "if possible" (118). Pamela's response to "this pleasing

Letter" contains a further hope that the gentry will assist her and a

request for a copy of Mr. Williams's key to the garden gate so that if

all else fails she can escape "any-where" and trust "to any compassionate

Body" she might meet, rather than remain where there is a real danger of

ruin (119). Before she can receive an answer, however, a letter is

delivered from Mr. B. which reveals that he still is struggling with his

"proud Heart" and at present fears only her "disregard" of him (121).

Learning further that he "repents," not for his barbarous treatment of

her, but for promising to await her consent to his visit, she fearfully

places supreme hope on the efforts of Mr. Williams. Her fears soon are

increased when she discovers that none of the gentry, including Mr.

Williams's superior, the Reverend Mr. Peters, will meddle in the Squire's


While Mr. Williams's efforts continue until he is jailed for debt by

Mr. B., there is little chance from this point that they will succeed,

but his last letter, with its "half-angry" advice that she quiet her fears

and trust that "God Almighty will not desert" her, coupled with that of

her parents, at least affords Pamela some comfort. Once again, however,

this comfort is short-lived when she "accidently" receives Mr. B.'s in-

structions to Mrs. Jewkes and discovers that the Squire is planning to

revenge himself on her for her activities with Mr. Williams. His passion

now dominant, Mr. B. appears half-crazed with jealousy, vows to jail Mr.

Williams, and threatens within three weeks a journey to Lincolnshire to

"decide" Pamela's "Fate" (145). Having already declared that only a

"Miracle" could save her if Mr. B.'s offer of Williams was a sham (133),

she now, in her despair, prays for a "Thunderbolt" to strike her or for

some means to escape the seemingly imminent destruction of her virtue

(145). With the imprisonment of Williams, she is finally completely

isolated, though at the same time we become aware that Mr. B. is beginning

to be plagued and thwarted by the very "tools" he has used to achieve his

present ends. John Arnold, once his most trusted agent, has proved a

"Villain" (144), and Mr. Williams, slyly suggested by the Squire on

several occasions as a possible husband for Pamela, has attempted to

effect her escape.1 For Mr. B. a process seems to have begun whereby

his very endeavourss shall be" his "hindrance; shall work" him "backwards,

and set" him "at a greater distance" from what he desires.2

At first, Mr. B.'s letters had caused Pamela to believe that, since

her "Fate" was now absolutely decided, it was vain "to contend against"

her "evil Destiny, and the superior Arts of" her "barbarous Master"

(146). Later, however, while vowing to "resign" herself "to God's Will,

and prepare to expect the worst" (146), she is horrified over the arrival

of Mr. B.'s "honest Swiss", Mr. Colbrand (147). At this point, she fin-

ally decides to trust in her own strength and once again attempt to

escape. Praying to God, the "gracious Protector of oppressed Innocence",

to "prosper...this last Effort of" His "poor Handmaid" that she "may

escape the crafty Devices and Snares that have already begun to entangle"

her "Virtue" (149), she then commits herself and the success of her

escape to His "Providence" (150).

This escape scene3 marks a crucial turning point in Pamela's story

and contains religious language significantly different from that pre-

viously seen. Writing later of her attempted escape, Pamela places em-

phasis upon the direct "interposition" of "divine Grace" in saving her

from a "worse" enemy than any she had yet encountered. That "enemy" was

her own despair, a sense of hopelessness which almost drove her to sui-

cide when her "Stratagem" failed. And though "ruin'd" in all her "Con-

trivances" (150), she nevertheless "rejoices" in her deliverance and

growing trust in the reality of a Divine "purpose" shaping the events of

her life. The episode seems to indicate that, at the very least, a

"supernatural" force indeed is interested in the outcome of her "trials."

Her near success itself confuses her captors and strikes them with awe,

with Mrs. Jewkes likening it to the "carrying" away of "St. Peter...out

of Prison by some Angel" (154).

During the attempted escape, Pamela, discovering that her key is

useless, tries to scale the garden wall only to be badly bruised by a

falling brick and knocked senseless. Seeing that all her "Contrivances"

had failed, she then decides to throw herself into the pond and drown.

Her "maim'd" condition, however, causes her to take a long time reaching

the pond, and during this interval, which happily "gave Time for a little

Reflection", she reports that a "Ray of Grace" darted in upon her momen-

tarily "benighted Mind" (151). She credits the appearance of this "Ray

of Grace" to her own physical injuries and relates how it initiated an

internal debate over the wisdom of committing suicide to avoid the dangers

surrounding her. Sitting "on the sloping Bank," she tries to find some

"hope" to cling to, something in her present condition and surroundings

which may presage a possibility of deliverance:

I then considered, and after I had cast about in
my Mind, every thing that could make me hope, and saw
no Probability; a wicked Woman devoid of all Compassion!
a horrid Helper just arriv'd in this dreadful Colbrand!
an angry and resenting Master, who now hated me, and
threatened the most afflicting Evils! and, that I should,
in all Probability, be depriv'd even of the Opportunity
I now had before me, to free myself from all their
Persecutions (152).

Despite so "hopeless" a situation and the "Probability" of certain ruin,

she then says: "What hast thou to do, distressed Creature...but to

throw thyself upon a merciful God, (who knows how innocently I suffer)

to avoid the merciless Wickedness of those who are determined on my Ruin"

(152). Even with this determination to trust in God, however, she once

more despairs, decides to drown herself, and romantically envisions the

pity and sorrow of her captors when they find her "poor Corse" (152).

But once again her bruises slow her down and give time to reconsider;

weighing carefully the consequences of what she is about to do, she chides

herself and thinks: "What art thou about to do, wretched Pamela? how

knowest thou, tho' the Prospect be dark to thy short-sighted Eye, what

God may do for thee, even when all human Means fail?" (152). After much

self-debate, and deciding that her present "Sufferings" may be God's

method to make her rely not only upon His "Grace" but also His more

active "Assistance," she finally decides to place complete trust in God,

and to avoid utterly the temptation of the "grand Enemy" (Satan) to


What then, presumptuous Pamela, dost thou here,
thought I? Quit with Speed these guilty Banks and
flee from these dashing Waters, that even in their
sounding Murmurs, this still Night, reproach thy

Rashness! Tempt not God's Goodness on the mossy
Banks, that have been Witnesses of thy guilty
Intentions; and while thou has Power left thee,
avoid the tempting Evil, lest thy grand Enemy, now
repuls'd by Divine Grace, and due Reflection, return
to the Charge with a Force that thy Weakness may not
be able to resist! And lest one rash Moment destroy
all the Convictions which now have aw'd thy rebellious
Mind into Duty and Resignation to the Divine Will (153)!

Although the episode ends with Pamela recaptured and placed under even

closer surveillance by Mrs. Jewkes and the other servants, she now can

view her recent "Trials" and those to come as being under the direct con-

trol of "Providence" (156). While in the scenes to come, she may, as all

human beings, occasionally fail to see the equity of her situation, or

may complain of the lack of sympathetic friends, at least a beginning

has been made whereby she will emerge from this time of testing a

stronger person than she was during the sequestered days in Bedfordshire.

And although her "Contrivances" are at an end (156), her "will" and her

increasing strength, derived from the testing of her beliefs, neverthe-

less enable her to ward off the temptations and terrors yet surrounding

her. She never becomes hardened or cynical; still distressed over the

alteration in her master, she is even able to feel joy, for her "good

Lady's sake", at his near escape from drowning (157). At the same time,

she is more determined than ever to preserve her virtue. And with the

arrival of Mr. B., there begins what can be viewed as the "second move-

ment" of the Lincolnshire section: the final conflict between lustful

pride and what has been revealed to be a Divine intervention for the

support of suffering innocence.

At their first meeting, Mr. B. once again affects a "stern and majes-

tic Air" and attempts to awe and terrify Pamela (160). Almost fainting,

she is advised by Mrs. Jewkes to "confess" her "unworthy Behaviour, and

beg his Honour's Forgiveness of all" her "Faults" (160). She is "struck

to the Heart at this," but recovering herself and lifting her "Eyes to

Heaven" says instead: "God forgive you, Sir" (160). This answer sends

Mr. B. into a "great Passion" and he orders her to leave and reconsider

her behavior. Soon calling for her to wait on him at table, he wrathfully

condemns Mr. Williams for his part in her attempts to escape and accuses

her of tempting the minister "to undo himself...at a Time when I was on

the Point of making him happy for his Life" (162). Knowing that pleading

is useless, she nevertheless states: "I have done, Sir, I have done! I

have a strange Tribunal to plead before. The poor Sheep, in the Fable,

had such an one; when it was try'd before the Vultur, on the Accusation

of the Wolf" (162).4 Mr. B. then humorously answers, accepting her

characterization of himself and Mrs. Jewkes: "So, Mrs. Jewkes...you are

the Wolf, I the Vultur, and this poor innocent Lamb, on her Trial before

us.--Oh! you don't know how well this Innocent is read in Reflection.

She has Wit at Will, when she has a mind to display her own romantic

Innocence, at the Price of other People's Characters" (162). Protesting

that she did not mean to compare Mr. B. to a "Vultur" in reality, Pamela

is told to be silent, but musters enough courage to say: "Well...since

I must not speak, I will hold my Peace: But there is a righteous Judge,

who knows the Secrets of all Hearts! and to him I appeal" (162). Mr. B.

pridefully counters this by saying: "See there!...now this meek, good

Creature is praying for Fire from Heaven upon us! 0 she can curse most

heartily, in the Spirit of Christian Meekness, I'll assure you" (162).

Continuing to mock her, he calls Pamela to him, praises the beauty of

her "Shape" and threatens that they "have a dreadful Reckoning to make"

(163). Trying to kiss her, he says that "if it were not for the thought

of this cursed Parson, I believe in my Heart, so great is my Weakness,

that I could yet forgive this ingriguing little Slut, and take her to my

Bosom" (163).5 This momentary good intention is quickly squelched by

Mrs. Jewkes, who advises that he should "take her to" his "Bosom" indeed

and "by to-morrow Morning...bring her to a better Sense of her Duty"

(163). Terrified over this "Vile" advice, Pamela "could only stammer out

a passionate Exclamation to Heaven, to protect" her "Innocence", an excla-

mation which is met with "Ridicule" and mockery (163). Sending her off to

consider the "Articles" he shortly will give her, Mr. B. cautions Pamela

that continued resistance will insure her only a "more dreadful Fate" and

that a refusal will only more securely fix her "Doom" (163).

Mr. B. not only mocks appeals to Heaven or a Divine Justice, but

also pridefully raises himself above any consideration of such a justice.

That he is not totally "depraved" is suggested by his momentary and ten-

uous desire to "forgive" Pamela. Despite this, however, the evil counsel

of Mrs. Jewkes is enough to sway his purpose and spur him on to even

greater acts of indecency. While the warnings he has received, his near

drowning and the frequent admonitions of Pamela and Mrs. Jervis, so far

have not touched him in any permanent way, there at least is still the

fact that he has not committed the ultimate crime against his maidservant.

The remaining scenes in Lincolnshire demonstrate how the pride and lust

of Mr. B. are consumed and defeated by the active and "merciful inter-

ventions" of the Providence in which Pamela has begun so wholeheartedly

to place her trust.

The scenes preceding the attempted rape, in particular those invol-

ving the "seven articles," continue to display both Mr. B.'s struggle

and Pamela's growing awareness of God's "good Pleasure" and her own

growing strength in the face of what seems to be probable ruin. Mr. B.'s

seven articles, pridefully asserting that her answer to them "will


absolutely decide" her "Fate" (164), are rejected by Pamela, who states

that although her "poor Strength will not be able to defend" her, "yet"

she "will be innocent of Crime in" her "Intention, and in the Sight of

God"; to Him she vows "to leave the avenging of all" her "Wrongs, in his

own good Time and Manner" (164). In replying to Article VI, in which Mr.

B. threatens that he means to "gratify" his "Passion" for her whether

she consents to his proposals or not, Pamela stoutly declares that if

she "cannot escape the Violence of Man," she hopes "by God's Grace" she

"shall have nothing to reproach" herself "for not doing all in" her

"Power to avoid" her "Disgrace" (166). If her will bears no part in her

ruin, she hopes to be able to "safely appeal to the great God," her "only

Refuge and Protector" (166). Despite the fact that she is a "poor, weak,

friendless, unhappy Creature...too fully in" Mr. B.'s "Power" (167), she

"commits" her "Cause" to God (168).

During the confrontation over his articles, Mr. B. at one point says

that if Pamela's decision "be not what you think will please me...dear

Girl, take it back again, and reconsider it; for if I have this as your

absolute Answer, and I don't like it, you are undone; for I will not sue

meanly, where I can command" (168). The allusion to Pamela as a "dear

Girl," in the midst of otherwise imperious demands, is followed by

actions which thoroughly confuse her. Offering to augment his proposed

settlement "to two Thirds of" his "Estate" because he "cannot live

without" her, he then states that "since the thing is gone so far" he

"will not" live without her and concludes the meeting by attempting to

kiss her (168). While struggling with his "Passion" at this point, Mr.

B. again is advised by Mrs. Jewkes that he can very easily end all his

troubles with Pamela by "resolving" to put "an End" to all her "Complain-

ing and Perverseness" (169). Shortly after this advice he tries to


achieve through violence what he has been unable to achieve through bribes

or terror.

If the "pond scene" represents the "high point" in the testing of

Pamela's beliefs and the beginning of her more mature awareness of a Di-

vine concern in the world, the attempted rape begins the process whereby

Mr. B. is brought face to face with the true nature and possible conse-

quences of his persecution and contrivances to seduce her. As the scene

opens, Mr. B. is disguised as the supposedly "drunk" servant, Nan.

Covered by her "Gown and Petticoat" with her "Apron over his Face and

Shoulders," Mr. B. pretends to sleep in a chair in Pamela's bedroom.

Later, while writing of the event, Pamela states of his disguise: "What

Meannesses will not Lucifer make his Votaries stoop to, to gain their

abominable Ends" (175). He is, at this point, not just as "cunning" as

"Lucifer," or a "Workman" promoted by "Lucifer," but a very "Votary" of

"Lucifer." Reminiscent again of traditional views of evil, its "protean"

qualities, Mr. B., in taking for a disguise the uniform of the meanest of

his servants, has, for all practical purposes, sunk as low as possible.

His previous concern for the "Honour" which he believed his position

should entitle him, is here of less consequence than his desire to satisfy

his lust.6

Beginning the attack, Mr. B. sheds his disguise and his voice soon

breaks upon Pamela "like a Clap of Thunder" (176). His words are almost

"God-like" as he states that "Now Pamela...is the dreadful Time of Reckon-

ing come, that I have threatened" (176). With both her hands secured, it

seems certain that the rape will take place. At first she screams out

"in such a manner, as never any body heard the like", but quickly remem-

bers that "there was nobody to help" her (176). This does not deter her

from struggling with all her strength, and she soon cries out: "0 God!

my God! this Time, this one Time! deliver me from this Distress! or strike

me dead this Moment" (176). Mr. B. slackens his efforts at this, and

asks her to hear him out. Mrs. Jewkes, however, advises him to stop

"dilly-dallying" and proceed. But, instead of being swayed by this ad-

vice, Mr. B. for the first time refuses to heed her words and even si-

lences her. Pamela's fainting fit soon frightens him, and when she awakens,

for the second time he silences Mrs. Jewkes and sends her away when her

advice to seize his opportunity throws Pamela into yet another fit. Im-

mediately following her second recovery, Mr. B. vows "By Heaven" that he

will not "come in again" to her, and the scene closes with Pamela in pos-

session of the keys to the room (177).

When it is kept in mind that Pamela herself directly attributes her

survival at this point to the "timely" disabling of her "Faculties" by

God (177), Mr. B.'s failure and subsequent activities are scarcely to be

appreciated apart from a close association with the intervening power of

God. It is not that Mr. B. is reformed instantly or "converted" by his

fear over Pamela's violent fits, but rather that a beginning has been

made toward altering his pride and lust. As his lust is replaced by an

awareness of the felicity to be gained from a "virtuous Love," he subse-

quently is shown the folly of his previous attempts to seduce virtue.7

The next day he shows "great Tenderness" toward Pamela (177), and, asking

her to "Place some little Confidence in" him, assures her that although

he "did intend what" she calls "the worst", he now can own that he loves

her "beyond all" her "Sex, and cannot live without" her (178). From

this point on, a process of mutual concession between Pamela and Mr. B.

begins, a process of mutual testing whereby they both eventually come to

accept the dignity and worth of each other.

In many ways, the scenes preceding the marriage emphasize the


"humanity" of both the Squire and Pamela, their need to strengthen daily

a beginning reformation and to exercise continually a trust in the wis-

dom of God. Throughout, the difficulty in fully resolving the conflict

between Mr. B.'s good qualities and his pride and delight in contrivan-

ces is complemented by Pamela's own doubts and occasional lapses in com-

plete trust in God's intervening power. What ultimately takes place in

these scenes, however, is an analysis of the human condition within a

providential world order, a presentation of the frequent tendency (as

evidenced by Mr. B.'s actions) to attribute to one's own will events

which are essentially the result of a Divine plan, and (as evidenced by

Pamela's statements) to allow moments of weakness and uncertainty to

overshadow temporarily the lessons gained from the testing of religious

beliefs. Two episodes preceding the wedding demonstrate the terms of

this analysis: the first meeting beside the pond, and Pamela's depar-

ture for home.

Walking beside the pond, Mr. B. first relates to Pamela how her

talk with Mrs. Jewkes before the attempted rape, her words "so innocent,

and so full of beautiful simplicity," had "half disarmed" his "Resolu-

tions" (184). At that time, moreover, seeing her "so watchful over" her

"Virtue" and hoping "to find it otherwise," he assures her that he has

since come to discover that his "Passion" for her "is increased," how-

ever honorably, by that very fact (184). Still attempting to excuse

his actions, and professing that at least he is "not a very abandoned

Profligate," he states of his present unsettled state of mind that:

"Had I been utterly given up to my Passions, I should before now have

gratify'd them, and not have shewn that Remorse and Compassion for you,

which have repriev'd you more than once, when absolutely in my Power;

and you are as inviolate a Virgin as you was when you came into my


House" (184). Mr. B. appears here to be more concerned with what went

wrong with his "perfectly" conceived contrivances than he is with totally

facing up to the consequences of his own actions. Perhaps because his

"Pride" still "struggles hard within" him, he cannot at this point

ascribe anything other than a personal reason for his failure to seduce

Pamela. He speaks of his "Remorse" and "Compassion" as if they alone

were responsible for Pamela's survival and should thus be gratefully

praised by her. He is unable at this time either to subjugate his

"Pride," or to admit unequivocally his complete love for his servant,

primarily because he refuses to acknowledge any power greater than his

own in bringing about the present turn of affairs. It is only after

reading Pamela's narrative and following her voluntary return to him

that Mr. B. truly comes to begin his reformation.8

Obtaining a part of Pamela's journal through the continued offic-

iousness of Mrs. Jewkes, Mr. B. appears flippant after reading the first

section. This portion, dealing as it does with her confusion and terror

during her attempts to escape with the help of Mr. Williams, does little

to convince him of the seriousness of his actions or the spiritual dan-

ger in which his temptations of an innocent young girl have placed him.

Her account of the major escape attempt, however, seems to captivate

him, and after reading it, Pamela relates that he "was very serious at

my Reflections, on what God had enabled me to escape. And when he came

to my Reasonings, about throwing myself into the Water, he said, Walk

gently before; and seem'd so mov'd, that he turned away his Face from

me; and I bless'd this good Sign, and began not so much to repent at

his seeing this mournful Part of my Story" (208). By reading her

"Reasonings," a genuine "Remorse" seems to arise and Mr. B. further is

enabled to marvel at her near escape. For Pamela, however, even though


"All this looked well" (209), fear over warnings that a "Sham-marriage"

is planned to ruin her causes her again to request to be sent home

safely to her parents. Enraged at this rejection following his sincere

desire somehow to "atone" for his previous behavior, Mr. B.'s pride

once again is inflamed, and "in a fearful Passion," he orders her to

"Begone" (209). Soon granted permission to return home, Pamela relates

how she was moved during her departure by his refusal to heed the advice

of Mrs. Jewkes that he not let her leave "scot-free" after "all the

Trouble she has cost" him (211). Standing in the doorway, Pamela begs

God to bless her master "for this Instance of...Goodness" and promises

to pray for him "as long as" she lives (211). The Squire, however,

refuses to see her, and despite her joy at leaving the scene of her

temptation, she nevertheless is troubled. Having admitted to herself

her love for him, she is confused over the strange turn of events which

has caused him so precipitously to grant her request. His "lordly" be-

havior causes her to reflect on the "Pride" which seems to be the

reason for both his disquiet and her own (210), and finally to say to

the Coachman, Robert, as she steps into the chariot: "here I am again!

a pure Sporting-piece for the Great! a mere Tennis-ball of Fortune" (212).

Just as Mr. B.'s pride causes him to act wrathfully when his avowed

"reformation" (despite all his previous lies and contrivances) is not

instantly believed to be sincere, this last statement by Pamela may be

taken as suggesting again the difficulty facing all human beings within

a providential universe in discerning at the moment of occurrence the

"purpose" or "reason" behind particular events.9 She seems here at yet

another "low point" in her progress toward a fuller awareness of the

active concern of a Divine Providence. But as the "pond scene" prepared

for her best glimpse of God's "purpose," this departure for home serves

to open her eyes more fully to the sense and meaning of all that has

previously occurred. Far from being a "mere Tennis-ball of Fortune,"

she soon comes to stand as an "Instrument" of "Providence." What follows

for Mr. B. is his transformation, by means of Pamela's example and his

own progressive loss of pride, from a "Votary" of evil into a man well

on his way toward true repentance.

Finally granted what she has so constantly desired, Pamela is never-

theless troubled by two letters sent after her by Mr. B. In the first

of these, while he hopes that she will not expose him unnecessarily

except for purposes of clearing her own conduct, he nevertheless assures

her "for that," he "will suffer" himself "to be accused by" her, "and

will also accuse" himself, "if it be needful" (214). Faced with these

signs of a generous nature, Pamela once again confesses to herself her

love for him, a love "I know not how it came, nor when it begun; but

creep, creep it has, like a Thief upon me; and before I knew what was

the Matter, it looked like Love" (214). The discomfort and the uncer-

tainty which she experiences is compounded when she receives the second

letter, which shows that Mr. B. has read the remaining portions of her

journal and as a result has found that he "struggles" against his

"Affection" for her in "vain" (216). Still desiring to see her former

letters, sent to her parents "by Williams's Conveyance," so that he can

have all his "proud, and, perhaps punctilious Doubts answered" (216),

he "begs" her to place confidence in him and return. Although at first

still suspicious of his avowed change of heart, and fearful that "his

Pride of Heart, and Pride of Condition, may again take place", she

finally decides that by returning she "may be the means of making many

happy, as well as" herself, "by placing a generous Confidence in him"