Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker - by Tobias Smollett

The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker is a 1771 epistolary novel by Tobias Smollett.  It is the best known of a number of hysterical novels.  (US Edition) (UK Edition) (DE Edition)

Hmmm, I think I know this person . . .
here is a strange fantastical oddity, one of your brethren, who harangues every day in the Pump-room, as if he was hired to give lectures on all subjects whatsoever — I know not what to make of him — Sometimes he makes shrewd remarks; at other times he talks like the greatest simpleton in nature — He has read a great deal; but without method or judgment, and digested nothing. He believes every thing he has read; especially if it has any thing of the marvellous in it and his conversation is a surprizing hotch-potch of erudition and extravagance. 
Obviously that letter was from Bath.

This will give you more of an idea of the style of writing:

In short, we found that Humphry was, at that very instant, haranguing the felons in the chapel; and that the gaoler's wife and daughter, together with my aunt's woman, Win Jenkins, and our house-maid, were among the audience, which we immediately joined. I never saw any thing so strongly picturesque as this congregation of felons clanking their chains, in the midst of whom stood orator Clinker, expatiating in a transport of fervor, on the torments of hell, denounced in scripture against evil-doers, comprehending murderers, robbers, thieves, and whore mongers. The variety of attention exhibited in the faces of those ragamuffins, formed a groupe that would not have disgraced the pencil of a Raphael. In one, it denoted admiration; in another, doubt; in a third, disdain; in a fourth, contempt; in a fifth, terror; in a sixth, derision; and in a seventh, indignation. — As for Mrs Winifred Jenkins, she was in tears, overwhelmed with sorrow; but whether for her own sins, or the misfortune of Clinker, I cannot pretend to say. The other females seemed to listen with a mixture of wonder and devotion. The gaoler's wife declared he was a saint in trouble, saying, she wished from her heart there was such another good soul, like him, in every gaol in England.
I notice that if you search “Humphry Clinker” instead of “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker,” (in the U.S.) you will only be presented with a full-priced Penguin edition and no free edition.  Of course Penguin is always good with footnotes and quality essays, but maybe you just want to read the book for free!

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