Well observed by the poet: Elias Brand and Richardson's British acients


Although Elias Brand contributes only one letter to the first edition of Clarissa, and three letters to the revised third edition of 1751, he is considered by Samuel Richardson important enough to include in his list of the "Principal Characters." This article accounts for Brand's complicated role by analyzing in detail the meaning of the forty-five quotations punctuating his letters, as well as the manner in which he quotes his tags and texts. Brand's marshalling of spurious evidence against Clarissa and his habit of quoting authors as authorities suggests that the latter may be a key to the credibility of the former. Brand repre sents himself as a confirmed "Ancient," but taking the pedant at his own word is dangerous because of the extent of his surprising debt to the British "Moderns" and to the seventeenth-century Oxford scholar and Anglo-Latin poet, John Owen. This article concludes that Brand's letters are thematic and structurally integral to a novel that is, in many ways, about the consequences of right and wrong reading. © 2012 ECF.

Publication Title

Eighteenth-Century Fiction