FIELDING, HENRY. Autograph manuscript of legal notes detailing pleas applicable to cases of forcible entry, [London, ca. 1745?]. 1 page, folio, 318 x 186 mm. (12 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.), comprising about 200 words in 23 lines, browned, edges neatly inlaid to a larger sheet, paginated "6" at top, at bottom a later five-line inscription: "I certify the above to be the Handwriting of Henry Fielding the Author of Tom Jones &c W Henry Fielding Grandson to the above."
The text details options available to a justice in cases where a jury has reached a verdict of forcible entry: "then the Justice shall reseize the Lands and Tenements ...and restore the party to his Possession. And this Restitution the Justice may make himself; or he may make his Warrant to ye Sheriff to do it or he may certifie Presentment taken before him into the King's Bench and leave the Restitution to be awarded out of that Court...." Along the right-hand margin are small circled letters, probably denoting the references to legal compendia which Fielding palnned to footnote. The Hyde manuscript (see below) exhibits the same marginal notations.
The manuscript is a leaf from Fielding's unfinished and unpublished legal treatise, An Institute of the Pleas of the Crown (ca. 1745), a "two-volume work...[which] survives only in fragments, which his grandson W.H. Fielding dispersed on the nineteenth-century autograph market" (Hugh Amory, New Books by Fielding: An Exhibition of the Hyde Collection, Cambridge: The Houghton Library, 1987, no. 30). "When Walpole imposed his theatrical licensing act in 1737, the former dramatic satirist enrolled at the Middle Temple. Needless to say, Fielding approached his legal career with the same energy he had applied to his dramatic career. Lawbooks began to pile up and manuscript extracts and notebooks based on them began to multiply...Manuscripts by Fielding are unusually scarce, and of those that survive, the most important are legal in nature" (Verlyn Klinkenborg, Herbert Cahoon and Charles Ryskamp, British Literary Manuscripts. Series I: from 800 to 1800, New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library 1981, no. 90, illustrating and describing a page from "Of Outlawry in Criminal Cases," a Chapter from An Institute of the Pleas of the Crown in the Hyde Collection, which is the largest surviving Fielding manuscript, 22 pages in length.