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of his nature and his social and convivial habits; Johnson, from his acerbity and gloom. When, in after life, the latter heard himself spoken of as gay and frolicksome at college, because he had joined in some riotous excesses there, "Ah, sir!" replied he, "I was mad and violent. It was bitterness which they mistook for frolic. I was miserably poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and my wit. So I disregarded all power and all authority."
Goldsmith's poverty was never accompanied by bitterness; but neither was it accompanied by the guardian pride which kept Johnson from falling into the degrading shifts of poverty. Goldsmith had an unfortunate facility at borrowing, and helping himself along by the contributions of his friends; no doubt trusting, in his hopeful way, of one day making retribution. Johnson never hoped, and therefore never borrowed. In his sternest trials he proudly bore the ills he could not master. In his youth, when some unknown friend, seeing his shoes completely worn out, left a new pair at his chamber door, he disdained to accept the boon, and threw them away.
Though like Goldsmith an immethodical student, he had imbibed deeper draughts of knowledge, and made himself a riper scholar. While Goldsmith's happy constitution and genial humors carried him abroad into sunshine and enjoyment, Johnson's physical infirmities and mental gloom drove him upon himself; to the resources of reading and meditation; threw a deeper though darker enthusiasm into his mind, and stored a retentive memory with all kinds of knowledge.
After several years of youth passed in the country as usher, teacher, and an occasional writer for the press, Johnson, when twenty-eight years of age, came up to London with a half-written
tragedy in his pocket; and David Garrick, late his pupil, and several years his junior, as a companion, both poor and penniless, both, like Goldsmith, seeking their fortune in the metropolis. "We rode and tied," said Garrick sportively in after years of prosperity, when he spoke of their humble wayfaring. "I came to London," said Johnson, "with twopence halfpenny in my pocket.”—“ Eh, what's that you say?" cried Garrick, "with twopence halfpenny in your pocket?" "Why, yes: I came with twopence halfpenny in my pocket, and thou, Davy, with but three halfpence in thine." Nor was there much exaggeration in the picture; for so poor were they in purse and credit, that after their arrival they had, with difficulty, raised five pounds, by giving their joint note to a bookseller in the Strand.
Many, many years had Johnson gone on obscurely in London, "fighting his way by his literature and his wit;" enduring all the hardships and miseries of a Grub-street writer: so destitute at one time, that he and Savage the poet had walked all night about St. James's Square, both too poor to pay for a night's lodging, yet both full of poetry and patriotism, and determined to stand by their country; so shabby in dress at another time, that when he dined at Cave's, his bookseller, when there was prosperous company, he could not make his appearance at table, but had his dinner handed to him behind a screen.
Yet through all the long and dreary struggle, often diseased in mind as well as in body, he had been resolutely self-dependent, and proudly self-respectful; he had fulfilled his college vow, he had "fought his way by his literature and his wit." His "Rambler" and "Idler" had made him the great moralist of the age, and his "Dictionary and History of the English Language," that stupendous monument of individual labor, had
excited the admiration of the learned world. He was now at the head of intellectual society; and had become as distinguished by his conversational as his literary powers. He had become as much an autocrat in his sphere as his fellow-wayfarer and adventurer Garrick had become of the stage, and had been humorously dubbed by Smollett, "The Great Cham of Literature.”
Such was Dr. Johnson, when on the 31st of May, 1761, he was to make his appearance as a guest at a literary supper given by Goldsmith, to a numerous party at his new lodgings in WineOffice Court. It was the opening of their acquaintance. Johnson had felt and acknowledged the merit of Goldsmith as an author, and been pleased by the honorable mention made of himself in the Bee and the Chinese Letters. Dr. Percy called upon Johnson to take him to Goldsmith's lodgings; he found Johnson arrayed with unusual care in a new suit of clothes, a new hat, and a well-powdered wig; and could not but notice his uncommon spruceness. "Why, sir," replied Johnson, “I hear that Goldsmith, who is a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of cleanliness and decency by quoting my practice, and I am desirous this night to show him a better example."
The acquaintance thus commenced ripened into intimacy in the course of frequent meetings at the shop of Davies, the bookseller, in Russell-street, Covent Garden. As this was one of the great literary gossiping places of the day, especially to the cir cle over which Johnson presided, it is worthy of some specification. Mr. Thomas Davies, noted in after times as the biographer of Garrick, had originally been on the stage, and though a small man, had enacted tyrannical tragedy, with a pomp and magniloquence beyond his size, if we may trust the description given of him by Churchill in the Rosciad :
DAVIES AND HIS BOOK-SHOP.
"Statesman all over-in plots famous grown,
This unlucky sentence is said to have crippled him in the midst of his tragic career, and ultimately to have driven him from the stage. He carried into the bookselling craft somewhat of the grandiose manner of the stage, and was prone to be mouthy and magniloquent.
Churchill had intimated, that while on the stage he was more noted for his pretty wife than his good acting:
"With him came mighty Davies; on my life,
'Pretty Mrs. Davies' continued to be the lode-star of his fortunes. Her tea-table became almost as much a literary lounge as her husband's shop. She found favor in the eyes of the Ursa Major of literature by her winning ways, as she poured out for him cups without stint of his favorite beverage. Indeed it is suggested that she was one leading cause of his habitual resort to this literary haunt. Others were drawn thither for the sake of Johnson's conversation, and thus it became a resort of many of the notorieties of the day. Here might occasionally be seen Bennet Langton, George Steevens, Dr. Percy, celebrated for his ancient ballads, and sometimes Warburton in prelatic state. Garrick resorted to it for a time, but soon grew shy and suspicious, declaring that most of the authors who frequented Mr. Davies's shop went merely to abuse him.
Foote, the Aristophanes of the day, was a frequent visitor; his broad face beaming with fun and waggery, and his satirical eye ever on the look-out for characters and incidents for his
farces. He was struck with the odd habits and appearance of Johnson and Goldsmith, now so often brought together in Davies's shop. He was about to put on the stage a farce called The Orators, intended as a hit at the Robin Hood debating club, and resolved to show up the two doctors in it for the entertainment of the town.
"What is the common price of an oak stick, sir?" said Johnson to Davies. "Sixpence," was the reply. "Why then, sir, give me leave to send your servant to purchase a shilling one. I'll have a double quantity; for I am told Foote means to take me off as he calls it, and I am determined the fellow shall not do it with impunity."
Foote had no disposition to undergo the criticism of the cudgel wielded by such potent hands, so the farce of The Orators appeared without the caricatures of the lexicographer and the essayist.