The beauty of “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded” by Samuel Richardson

Pamela by Samuel Richardson

I: Mr B. Finds Pamela Writing 1743-4 Joseph Highmore 1692-1780 Purchased 1921 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03573

Hi, friends, in this post I just want to share my amazement elicited by the epistolary novel “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded” by ingenius Samuel Richardson. Probably you have never stumbled upon “Pamela” nor heard much of Richardson himself, so let me draw a brief outline of the writer and his literary legacy.

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was a great English writer, deemed by many the first eminent English novelist. What is interesting about his style is that his most famous novels, namely “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded”, “Clarissa, Or the History of a Young Lady”, and “The History of Sir Charles Grandison” are purely epistolary, being written entirely in the form of letters or sometimes diaries. I am truly charmed by Richrdson’s literary prowess. You float on the waves of his lines which abound in elaborately selected words. The paragraphs create the atmosphere of the sumptuousness of style, of that rich leisurely narration which cannot fail to lure the reader.

To me personally, Richardson’s creations possess an inimitable charm of intrinsic rhythm. It is wide in its foot and subtle in its diction, and yet once you catch the rhythm you are going to resonate with the flow of his prose for the rest of the pages.

“Pamela” consists of two volumes, the first one being in the form of letters by Pamela to her parents and their responses; the second volume presents Pamela’s diary since she was kidnapped by her future husband, Mr. B, and was unable to send letters. Pamela was a girl of fifteen years old and of rare beauty combined with an extreme sense of virtue and purity for which she would be ready to sacrifice her young life. Mr. B was her landowner and master after the death of his mother, and he gradually became so obssessed with Pamela’s attractions that he completely lost his mind and sanity in his attempts to seduce her and later to rape her.

Pamela Fainting by Highmore

Finally he kidnapped Pamela and continued his attempts in another estate till once she had a serious fit as a result of his forceful abuse and was seeming dead. Mr. B deeply repented his conduct and offered Pamela an equitable marriage. Pamela, after considerable hesitation agreed. The second volume of the novel is mostly dealing with the entrance of Pamela into the upper gentle society and the subsequent challenges. Still, with all her incredible sincerity and softness of disposition, she fitted harmoniously into the new world.

Here I commend to your attention the first lines of the novel hoping that you will enjoy the style and rhythm of it:


DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,

I have great trouble, and some comfort, to acquaint you with. The trouble is, that my good lady died of the illness I mentioned to you, and left us all much grieved for the loss of her; for she was a dear good lady, and kind to all us her servants. Much I feared, that as I was taken by her ladyship to wait upon her person, I should be quite destitute again, and forced to return to you and my poor mother, who have enough to do to maintain yourselves; and, as my lady’s goodness had put me to write and cast accounts, and made me a little expert at my needle, and otherwise qualified above my degree, it was not every family that could have found a place that your poor Pamela was fit for: but God, whose graciousness to us we have so often experienced at a pinch, put it into my good lady’s heart, on her death-bed, just an hour before she expired, to recommend to my young master all her servants, one by one; and when it came to my turn to be recommended, (for I was sobbing and crying at her pillow) she could only say, My dear son!—and so broke off a little; and then recovering—Remember my poor Pamela—And these were some of her last words! O how my eyes run—Don’t wonder to see the paper so blotted.


I hope you hear this music sounding; Richardson was able to emulate the thoughts and feelings of a young lady so masterfully that one, I think, would not be able to say that the letter was authored by a male if he did not know it prior to reading.

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson

Being none of a literary critic, I lack the vocabulary to describe the merits of “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded”. I merely recommend that you start reading the book and fall in love with it; “Pamela” will wrap you with warmth and tenderness for many an evening creating the atmosphere of soft and deep English prose flowing through you and charging you with grateful enthusiasm and appreciation of Samuel Richardson’s literary genius.

To read “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded”, just follow the links provivded in this post.

All your kind comments to this brief article are highly welcome and appreciated.

Love you, my dear readers!

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