friend and brother."

thought, at least from the ease with which my own already, I mean that I am your most affectionate sentiments rise when they are addressed to you: for, believe me, my head has no share in all I write; my heart dictates the whole. Pray give my love to Bob Bryanton, and entreat him, from me, not to drink. My dear sir, give me some account about poor Jenny. Yet her husband loves her; if so, she can not be unhappy.

Notwithstanding the ardour with which our author at first prosecuted his intention of embarking for the Indies, we find soon after that he abandoned the design altogether, and applied himself with renewed vigour to literary pursuits. From what particular motive this expedition was given up, has

"I know not whether I should tell you-yet why never been accurately explained, but most likely it should I conceal those trifles, or indeed any thing, was owing to the immediate impracticability of from you? There is a book of mine will be pub-raising an adequate sum for his equipment. Perlished in a few days, the life of a very extraordinary haps, however, a better reason may be found in the man—no less than the great Voltaire. You know rapid change that took place in our author's circumalready by the title, that it is no more than a catch-stances about this time, in consequence of the inpenny. However, I spent but four weeks on the creased patronage he began to receive from the whole performance, for which I received twenty booksellers. No man had the art of displaying pounds. When published, I shall take some me- with more advantage as a writer, whatever literary thod of conveying it to you, unless you may think acquisitions he had made; and whatever he put his it dear of the postage, which may amount to four hands to as an author, he finished with such felicior five shillings. However, I fear you will not find ty of thought and purity of expression, that it alan equivalence of amusement. Your last letter, I most instantly became popular. Hence the bookselrepeat it, was too short; you should have given me lers were soon bound to him from interest, and the your opinion of the design of the heroic-comical profits they derived from the ready sale of his propoem which I sent you: you remember I intended ductions became the guarantee of his constant emto introduce the hero of the poem as lying in a pal- ployment. He had by this time published the try alehouse. You may take the following speci-" Bee, being Essays on the most interesting Submen of the manner, which I flatter myself is quite jects," also Essays and Tales in the British Magaoriginal. The room in which he lies, may be de-zine, afterwards collected and published in one volscribed somewhat this way :ume, besides various criticisms in the newspapers and reviews, all of which were read with avidity by the public, and commended by the learned. His connexions with literary characters became consequently still more extended, and his literary pros pects were rendered still more flattering; and hence we may the more easily account for the change that took place in his mind with regard to his Indian appointment.

"The window, patch'd with paper, lent a ray,
That feebly show'd the state in which he lay.
The sanded floor that grits beneath the tread;
The humid wall with paltry pictures spread;
The game of goose was there exposed to view,
And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew;
The seasons, framed with listing, found a place,
And Prussia's monarch show'd his lamp-black face.
The morn was cold; he views with keen desire

A rusty grate unconscious of a fire;

An unpaid reckoning on the frieze was scored,
And five crack'd tea-cups dress'd the chimney-board.

Our author's toil in the service of the booksellers was now exceedingly laborious. Independent of his contributions to newspapers and magazines, he wrote regularly for Mr. Griffiths in the Monthly Review, from nine till two o'clock every day. His friend Dr. Milner had introduced him to Griffiths, and this work was performed in consequence of a written agreement which was to last for a year. The remuneration to be given on the part of Mr. Griffiths, was board and lodging, and a handsome “All this is taken, you see, from nature. It is salary; but it is probable Goldsmith found the drudgery too irksome, for at the end of seven or good remark of Montaigne's, that the wisest men often have friends, with whom they do not care tual consent. When the "Inquiry into the state eight months the agreement was dissolved by muhow much they play the fool. Take my present of Polite Literature" was published, Mr. Newberfollies as instances of regard. Poetry is a much easier, and more agreeable species of composi-ry, the bookseller, who at that time gave great ention than prose; and could a man live by it, it couragement to men of literary talents, became one of our author's chief patrons. For that gentleman were no unpleasant employment to be a poet. I am resolved to leave no space, though I should fill he was now regularly engaged in writing or comit up only by telling you, what you very well know piling a variety of minor pieces, and at the same time was introduced by his means as a writer in the Public Lodger, to which he contributed Chi


His youngest sister, who had married unfortunately.

"And now imagine, after his soliloquy, the landlord to make his appearance, in order to dun him for the reckoning :

"Not with that face, so servile and so gay,
That welcomes every stranger that can pay;
With sulky eye he smoked the patient man,
Then pull'd his breeches tight, and thus began, etc.

nese Letters, afterwards published under the title] To a mind of the highest order, richly and various of the "Citizen of the World." ly cultivated, Johnson united a warm and gene At this time also, Goldsmith wrote occasionally rous disposition. Similar qualities, both of the for the British Magazine and Critical Review, con- head and the heart, were conspicuous in Goldducted by Dr. Smollett. To that celebrated wri-smith; and hence, to use an expression of the ter he was originally introduced in consequence of Rambler himself, no two men were, perhaps, ever the taste and accuracy with which he had criticis- better formed to take to one another. The innate ed a despicable translation of Ovid's Fasti, by a benevolence of heart which they mutually displaypedantic schoolmaster; though the intercourse be-ed first drew them together; and so strong was the tween them does not appear to have been kept up attraction, ultimately increased by respect for each for any considerable time, yet Goldsmith is said to other's powers, that their friendship subsisted withhave derived important advantages from the con- out interruption, and with undiminished regard, nexion. It is well known that the liberal soul of for a period of fourteen years. It has been injuSmollett made him the friend of every author in diciously remarked, that this connexion was unfordistress; and it is generally understood that, for tunate for the reputation of Goldsmith, and that, some time, he warmly interested himself in Gold-in the literary circles of the time, "he seldom apsmith's success. He not only recommended him peared but as a foil to the Giant of Words." On to the patronage of the most eminent booksellers, the contrary, however, the intercourse that subsistbut introduced him to the notice of the first literary ed between these eminent men, would rather apcharacters. pear to have been productive of the finest illustraNotwithstanding the variety of our author's lite-tion of their respective characters; and such was rary labours, however, no decided improvement in the strength of their mutual attachment, that it his circumstances appears to have taken place till seems to have been the study of each to embellish after the publication of his "Inquiry" in 1759. and exalt the character of the other. Besides, At that time he had lodgings in Green-Arbour Johnson was the giant of intellect as well as the Court, Old Bailey; and, that he must have occu- giant of words, and it is absurd to suppose, that, in pied them rather on principles of economy than the display of his extraordinary powers he would from the excellence of their accommodation, is ever require a foil to heighten their effect. Goldproved by a little anecdote related by one of his smith, it is true, seemed sometimes, as it were, to literary friends. "I called on Goldsmith, at his look up to the great moralist, but it was rather with lodgings," said he, "in March 1759, and found affection than with dread, more with the spirit of him writing his "Inquiry," in a miserable, dirty-emulation than the despair of equal excellence. looking room, in which there was but one chair; And, on the other hand, in no single instance do and when from civility, he resigned it to me, he we find that Johnson ever looked down upon Goldwas himself obliged to sit in the window. While smith as inferior to himself: the reverse, indeed, is we were conversing together some one gently much more frequently the case; for the uniform tapped at the door, and being desired to come in, tendency of his remarks on the genius and writings a poor ragged little girl, of a very becoming de- of our author is to hold him up as the brighest litemeanour, entered the room, and dropping a cour-rary ornament of his time. Long before his fame tesy said, 'my mamma sends her compliments, and was established with the public, Johnson had justly begs the favour of you to lend her a chamber-pot appreciated his talents, and in a conversation with full of coals?" " Boswell, concluded with asserting, that "Goldsmith was one of the first men then existing as an author."

Our author's labours for the booksellers, though for some time unproductive of general literary fame, by degrees procured him the more substan- It has not been ascertained by whom Johnson tial benefits of good living and commodious lodg- and our author were originally introduced to one ings. He soon acquired extraordinary facility in another; but it is generally understood that their compilation, and used to boast of the power of his intimacy commenced in the beginning of 1761. pen in this way of procuring money. According-On the 31st of May, that year, we find Johnson, ly, as early as 1761, we find him removed from for the first time, at a supper in Goldsmith's lodg Green-Arbour Court to Wine-Office Court in ings, in Wine-Office Court, along with a number Fleet-street, where he occupied genteel apartments, of literary friends. Dr. Percy, afterwards Bishop received visits of ceremony, and sometimes gave of Dromore, was one of the party invited, and be entertainments to his literary friends. ing intimate with the great lexicographer, was reAmong the distinguished characters to whom quested to call at his chambers and take him along Goldsmith had been lately introduced, and with with him. When walking together, to the poet's whom he now regularly associated, either from lodging, Percy was struck with the unusual imilarity of disposition or pursuits, the most re- spruceness of Johnson's appearance in the studied markable in point of eminence was Dr. Johnson. neatness of his dress: he had on a new suit of

clothes, a new hat, and a wig nicely powdered; | which he produced to me. I looked into it, and and in the tout ensemble of his apparel there was saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon rea degree of smartness, so perfectly dissimilar to his turn; and having gone to a bookseller sold it for ordinary habits and appearance, that it could not sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, fail to prompt an inquiry on the part of his compan- and he discharged his rent, not without rating his ion, as to the cause of this transformation. "Why, landlady in a high tone for having used him so sir," said Johnson, "I hear that Goldsmith, who ill."

is a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of Mr. Newberry was the person with whom cleanliness and decency, quoting my practice, and Johnson thus bargained for the "Vicar of WakeI am desirous this night to show him a better ex-field." The price agreed on was certainly little ample." for a work of such merit; but the author's name The connexion betwixt our author and John- was not then conspicuously known to the public, son was henceforth more closely cemented by dai- and the purchaser took the whole risk on himself ly association. Mutual communication of thought by paying the money down. So unconscious was vegot mutual esteem, and as their intercourse in- he of the real worth of his purchase, and so little creased, their friendship improved. Nothing could sanguine of its success, that he kept the manuhave been more fortunate for Goldsmith. A man script by him for a long time after. Indeed, it was of his open improvident disposition was apt to not till the author's fame had been fully establishstand in need of the assistance of a friend. The ed by the publication of his "Traveller," that the years, wisdom, and experience of Johnson, ren- publisher ventured to put the "Vicar of Wakedered his advice of the highest value, and from field" to the press; and then he reaped the two-fold the kindness and promptitude with which he un- advantage arising from the intrinsic merit of the dertook and performed good offices, he might al-work, and the high character of its author. When ways be securely relied on in cases of difficulty Boswell some years afterwards, remarked to Johnor distress. It was not long before the improvi- son, that there had been too little value given by dence of our author produced embarrassment in the bookseller on this occasion: "No, sir," said he, his circumstances, and we find the illustrious mo- "the price was sufficient when the book was sold; ralist the prompt and affectionate Mentor of his for then the fame of Goldsmith had not been eleimprudent friend. The sums which he was now vated, as it afterwards was, by his "Traveller;” receiving as a writer, might naturally be supposed and the bookseller had such faint hopes of profit to have been at least equal to his wants, and more by his bargain, that he kept the manuscript by than sufficient to have kept him out of debt. But him a long time, and did not publish till after the Goldsmith's affections were so social and generous, "Traveller" had appeared. Then, to be sure, that when he had money he gave it most liberally it was accidentally worth more money. Had it away. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if been sold after the "Traveller," twice as much we find him soon after this period in distress for money would have been given for it, though sixty money, and even under arrest for his rent He guineas was no mean price. The bookseller had had just put the finishing stroke to his Vicar of the advantage of Goldsmith's reputation from the Wakefield when the arrest took place, and was "Traveller," in the sale, though Goldsmith had it obliged to send for his friend Johnson to raise mo- not in selling the copy." ney by a sale of the manuscript.

After the sale of this novel, Goldsmith and Mr. Our author's situation, on this occasion, hav- Newberry became still more closely connected. ing been mis-stated, it may be proper to give an We find him, in 1763, in lodgings at Canonbury authentic detail of it as narrated by Johnson him- House, Islington, where he laboured assiduously self. for that gentleman, in the revisal and correction of various publications; particularly, "The Art of Poetry," in 2 vols. 12mo; a "Life of Beau Nash,”

"I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that the famous king of Bath; a republication of his I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent own letters, originally written in the character of him a guinea, and promised to come to him direct- a Chinese Philosopher, and contributed to the ly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, Public Ledger, a newspaper of which Kelly was and found that his landlady had arrested him for at that time the editor. These were now collected his rent, at which he was in a violent passion: I and given to the public in 2 vols. 12mo, under the perceived that he had already changed my guinea, title of "The Citizen of the World." Of all his and had a bottle of Madeira and a glass before productions, prompted by necessity, and written on him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he the spur of the moment, this collection of letters would be calm, and began to talk to him of the is entitled to the praise of supereminent merit. means by which he might be extricated. He then Few works exhibit a nicer perception, or more delitold me that he had a novel ready for the press, cate delineation of life and manners. Wit, humeur,

and sentiment, pervade every page; the vices and man of letters, but as such not very remarkably follies of the day are touched with the most play- distinguished; and it was frequently observed, ful and diverting satire; and English character- that though his publications were much read, they istics, in endless variety, are hit off with the pen-were not greatly talked of. With the characteriscil of a master. They have ever maintained their tic irritability of genius, conscious of its powers currency and reputation, and are ranked among and jealous of its reward, Goldsmith used to fret the classical productions of the British muse. under the pangs of neglected merit, and to repine at the slow progress of public opinion.

Nearly about the same time, or early in 1764, a selection of all his fugitive pieces, originally con- No votary of the muses was ever more emulous tributed to various magazines, were collected and of fame; and, with his accustomed simplicity, he published for his own benefit, in one volume, un- was careless of concealing his impatience to obder the title of "Essays." These, in their general tain it. Various anecdotes of his fretful anxiety scope and tendency bear some analogy to the letters for applause have been recorded in different pubof the Chinese Philosopher. The manner is still lications, but the most authentic is one of rather a happier than the matter, though that too is excel- ludicrous description, noticed by Mr. Boswell. lent; and our author appears to have been prompt- Conversing with Dr. Johnson one day on the difed to their republication, in consequence of the libe- ficulty of acquiring literary celebrity, "Ah," said ral use that was surreptitiously made of them by he, in a tone of distress, "the public will never do the magazines, and other fugitive repositories of me justice; whenever I write any thing, they the day. In a humorous preface which accom- make a point to know nothing about it.". On anpanied the volume, he took notice of that circum- other occasion, when Boswell was present, "I stance, and vindicates his claim to the merit as fear," said Goldsmith, "I have come too late into well as the profit of his own productions. "Most the world; Pope and other poets have taken up of these Essays," said he, "have been regularly the places in the temple of Fame, and as a few at reprinted two or three times a-year, and conveyed any period can possess poetical reputation, a man of to the public through the channel of some engag-genius can now hardly acquire it." And in the ing compilation. If there be a pride in multiplied same querulous tone of despondency he addresses editions, I have seen some of my labours sixteen his brother, in the dedication to his "Traveller:" times reprinted, and claimed by different parents "Of all kinds of ambition, as things are now ciras their own. I have seen them flourished at cumstanced, perhaps that which pursues poetical the beginning with praise, and signed at the fame is the wildest. What from the increased re end with the names of Philantos, Philalethes, Phi- finement of the times, from the diversity of judg laleutheros, and Philanthropos. These gentle- ment produced by opposing systems of criticism men have kindly stood sponsors to my produc- and from the more prevalent divisions of opinion tions; and to flatter me more, have always passed influenced by party, the strongest and happiest them as their own. It is time, however, at last to efforts can expect to please but a very narrow cirvindicate my claims; and as these entertainers of cle." A short time, however, proved to our authe public, as they call themselves, have partly thor how fallacious were his fears. In less than a lived upon me for some years, let me now try if I year the publication of his "Traveller," placed can not live a little upon myself. I would desire, him at the head of the poets of his time. in this case, to imitate that fat man, whom I have The outline of this beautiful poem had been somewhere heard of in a shipwreck, who, when sketched during our author's residence in Switzthe sailors, pressed by famine, were taking slices erland, and part of it, as noticed in the dedication, from his posteriors to satisfy their hunger, insisted, had been addressed from that country to his brother with great justice, on having the first cut for him- Henry in Ireland. Diffident of its merit, and self." The rapidity with which the first impres- fearful of its success, he kept it by him in its origision of this little volume was disposed of, greatly nal crude state for several years, and it was not till surpassed the expectations of its author. Since he had been strongly encouraged by the high opinthat time, few books have gone through a greater ion expressed of it by Dr. Johnson, that he was at variety of editions. last induced to prepare it for the press. For two

It has been somewhere remarked, that Gold-years previous to its publication, while toiling at smith was a plant of slow growth; and perhaps other works for bread, his choicest hours are said there may be some truth in the observation, in so to have been devoted to the revisal and correction far as regards public applause. He had now been of this poem, and, if report may be believed, no poseven years a writer, and, notwithstanding the va- em was ever touched and retouched by its author riety of his labours, had produced little, except his with more painful and fastidious care. When he "Inquiry" and "Citizen of the World," to distin- thought at length that it had received the highest guish him from the herd of authors by profession. possible finishing, it was committed to the press, With the public he was generally known as a and came out early in 1765. It was hailed with

delight by all ranks, celebrity and patronage fol- of him in every page; we grow intimate with him lowed the applause with which it was received, as a man, and learn to love him as we read. A and Goldsmith, so far as regarded fame, was at last general benevolence glows throughout this poem. at the height of his ambition. It breathes the liberal spirit of a true citizen of the The great moral object of the "Traveller" is to world. And yet how beautifully does it inculcate reconcile man with his lot. The poet maintains and illustrate that local attachment, that preference that happiness is equally distributed among man- to native land, which, in spite of every disadvankind, and that a different good, either furnished by tage of soil or climate, pleads so eloquently to every nature or provided by art, renders the blessings of bosom; which calls out with maternal voice from all nations even. In pursuing his subject he takes the sandy desert or the stormy rock, appealing iran imaginary station on the Alps, and passes his resistibly to the heart in the midst of foreign luxuview over the countries that lie spread out beneath ries and delights, and calling the wanderer home. him, noticing those only, however, through which the author had personally travelled.

When the "Traveller" was published, Dr. Johnson wrote a review of it for one of the journals, and pronounced it the finest poem that had appear

He draws a picture of each in succession, describing from his own observation their scenery ed since the time of Pope. This was no cold praise, and manners. He enumerates their advantages, for the versification of Pope was at that time the and contrasts their various pursuits,-"wealth, model for imitation; his rules were the standard of commerce, honour, liberty, content," showing that criticism, and the "Essay on Man" was placed at each favourite object, when attained, runs into ex- the head of didactic poetry. The fame of Goldcess, and defeats itself by bringing with it its own smith was now firmly established; and he had the peculiar evil. He proceeds to show, that content-satisfaction to find, that it did not merely rest on ment is more frequently to be found in a meagre the authority of the million, for the learned and mountain soil and stormy region, than in a genial the great now deemed themselves honoured by his climate and luxuriant country; for labour produces acquaintance.

competence, and custom inures to hardship, while His poem was frequently the subject of converignorance renders the rugged peasant calm and sation among the literary circles of the time, and cheerful under a life of toil and deprivation. But particularly in that circle which used to assemble the poet makes a distinction between mere content at the house of Sir Joshua Reynolds. On one ocand happiness. If the wants of barren states are casion it was remarked among the company at Sir few, and their wishes limited, their enjoyments are Joshua's, that "the 'Traveller' had brought Goldin like manner circumscribed; for every want be- smith into high reputation."-"Yes," said Mr. comes a source of pleasure when gratified. Their Langton, "and no wonder; there is not one bad virtues partake also a similar dearth, and their line in that poem, not one of Dryden's careless morals, like their pleasures, are scanty, coarse, and verses." low.

"SIR JOSHUA.-I was glad to hear Charles Fox say, it was one of the finest poems in the English language.

For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
Unalter'd, unimproved, the manners run;
And love's and friendship's finely pointed dart
Fall blunted from each indurated heart.
Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast
May sit like falcons cowering on the nest;
But all the gentler morals, such as play
Through life's more cultured walks, and charm the way,
These, far dispersed, on timorous pinions fly,
To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.

"LANGTON.-Why were you glad? You sure. ly had no doubt of it before.

"DR. JOHNSON.-No: the merit of the "Traveller," is so well established, that Mr. Fox's praise can not augment it, nor his censure diminish it."

"SIR JOSHUA.-But his friends may suspect they had too great a partiality for him.

"JOHNSON.-Nay, sir, it can not be so; for the partiality of his friends was always against him.”

The poet comes at length to the conclusion, that happiness centres in the mind, that it depends up- Goldsmith, however, was not permitted to enjoy on ourselves, and is equally to be enjoyed in every the fame he had acquired without experiencing al country and under every government; for, even in so the detraction that generally attends successful regions of tyranny and terror, where unjust laws genius. The envy of some and the jealousy of oppress, and cruel tortures are inflicted, these evils others, especially among the minor candidates for rarely find their way into the hallowed seclusion of poetical fame, was speedily awakened by the ap plause bestowed on his poem. Unable to deny the In this poem, we may particularly remark a merit of the performance, they strove to detract quality which distinguishes the writings of Gold- from the merit of its author, by ascribing the chief smith; it perpetually presents the author to our part of it to the friendly muse of Dr. Johnson. minds. He is one of the few writers who are in- This question has since been finally settled. In separably identified with their works. We think the year 1783, Dr. Johnson, at the request of Mr.

a domestic circle.

« VorigeDoorgaan »