chapter  Chapter VIII
29 Pages

Sad Dogs and Saints

WithTobias Smollett

A purposely picaresque novel was seldom touched with concern for the primary virtues. Tobias Smollett’s earliest novels, Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle took their pattern from perhaps the best of the rogue romances, Lesage’s Gil Blas. Smollett sums up his qualifications for a future in society with the observation that he was “in the utmost hazard of turning out a most egregious coxcomb”. In Smollett’s novels, speaking at large, whatever interest the characters possess for the reader is likely to attach to their limitations, or even to their downright defects. The art of bringing scenery and environment within the circumference of the novel has been due in an importamt degree to Smollett’s example. Smollett’s humor is never pastel, but cut like a gargoyle out of the granite of human nature, preserving the hardness of its element. In Clinker Smollett makes much of malapropisms, both Winifred Jenkins’s and Winifred’s.