Tobias Smollett, Humphry Clinker (1771), p. 57


Jery Melford to Sir Philip Watkins:

[Matt Bramble] affects misanthropy, in order to conceal the sensibility of a heart, which is tender, even to a degree of weakness. This delicacy of feeling, or soreness of the mind, makes him timorous and fearful; but then he is afraid of nothing so much as of dishonour; and although he is exceedingly cautious of giving offence, he will fire at the least hint of insolence or ill-breeding.

Why would a person affect misanthropy to conceal sensibility? Jery believes that the offspring of Bramble's tenderness, having undergone an (affectedly) misanthropic transformation, is penetrating satire. What would this have been in its unaffected state--hostility or charity? Also, if wit/satire is an effect of sensibility, it seems possible that the Augustan tradition has a broader base in the cult of feeling than we think. Is sensibility just more honest, or less mediated (/socially aware)? What's at stake in opposing the Augustan temper with the sensible?

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography