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Among the fruits of his industry, in addition to a great deal of miscellaneous work which need not be inquired after particularly (though, if Goody Two Shoes were really his, one would like to know it), was a History of England in a series of Letiers from a Nobleman to his Son. This work, which must not be confounded with a subsequent History of England from his pen, was published by Newbery in two pocket volumes in June 1764. The title was a ruse to attract attention to the book, and it succeeded. It was attributed to Lord Chesterfield or Lord Orrery, and then very generally to Lord Lyttelton, and became very popular. Goldsmith, having received 211., which remained as the balance due to him for the work, did not wish to undeceive the public. He had, indeed, by him, finished or nearly finished, certain things of his own, not written to Newbery's order, but for private pleasure, and for which he cared more than for any compilation. But of these presently.
Islington, though more out of the bustle of central London then than it is now, was not so far off but that a walk every other day would bring Goldsmith into Fleet Street and its purlieus. And more and more now there were attractions for Goldsmith tn that cosy heart of London. His acquaintance with Johnson had led
to his introduction to Mr. (not yet Sir Joshua) Reynolds, then forty years of age, l living in his mansion in Leicester Square, and hospitable, with his kind serenity of
disposition and his 6,000l. a year of income, to the largest circle of attached friends that any man ever drew around him. At those noctes cænæque Deúm at Reynolds's in Leicester Square, long afterwards remembered with such relish by Boswell, Goldsmith was certainly welcome even thus early. Here he would meet Burke, who barely remembered him at Trinity College, Dublin ; and sometimes he and Johnson, leaving Reynolds's, and parting with Burke at the door, would go down the Strand to · Johnson's chambers in Inner Temple Lane, or perhaps (for Johnson hated early hours) drop in, for more talk, at the Mitre Tavern in Fleet Street. Just at this time, too, Boswell's visage does begin to be seen on the skirts of the group of which he was to be so singularly intimate a member, and whose history he was to write for the whole world. He had been up to London for the first time in 1760, a mere lad of twenty years, but already a devoted worshipper of Johnson, and possessed with a passion for being introduced to him. He had failed in that object then ; but in the end of 1762 he was again in London on his way to Utrecht to study law. Two chapters in his “ Life of Johnson”-two as interesting chapters of anecdote as ever man wrote-preserve the particulars of that visit, which extended over more than six months, or to August 1763. Early in the visit, it appears, he met Goldsmith at dinner at the house of Thomas Davies, the ex-actor and bookseller, in Russell Street, Covent Garden—whose shop was perhaps then the most noted afternoon rendezvous in London for poets, wits, dramatists, and literary gossips. Improving this meeting, he had even, he tells us, become “pretty well acquainted” with Goldsmith before he made that greater acquaintanceship for which his soul panted. What mattered it to know Goldsmith, with Wilkes, Churchill, Lloyd, Robert Dodsley, and others—to all of whom the eager young fellow had somehow pushed his way-so long as Johnson was unknown? At last the
momentous day came—Monday the 16th May, 1763. Boswell was sitting with Mr. and Mrs. Davies in the back-parlour behind their shop, where indeed he. seems to have been for some time on the watch for the apparition that now presented itself. It was Johnson at last, rolling into the shop, as large as life, to have a talk with Davies. “Mr. Davies,” says Boswell, “mentioned my name “and respectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated; and, recollecting “ his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, “ • Don't tell him where I come from. 'From Scotland,' cried Davies, roguishly. “Mr. Johnson,' said I, 'I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.'
•That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.' “ This stroke stunned me a good deal ; and, when we sat down, I felt myself
not a little embarrassed, and apprehensive of what might come next. He then “addressed himself to Davies, “What do you think of Garrick ? He has refused
me an order for the play for Miss Williams, because he knows that the house " will be full, and that an order will be worth three shillings.' Eager to take
any opening to get into conversation with him, I ventured to say, 'O Sir, I
cannot think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you.' 'Sir,' said he “ with a stern look, 'I have known David Garrick longer than you have done, know no right you have to talk to me on the subject.''
Here was a knock-down for the young enthusiast-only two-and-twenty years of age, it is to be remembered in his favour. But one of the best things ever said of Boswell was what Goldsmith said of him not long afterwards. Some one had called him a “Scotch cur.” “No, no,” replied Goldsmith, “ you are too severe; he is only a Scotch bur. Tom Davies threw him at Johnson in sport, and he has the faculty of sticking.” He showed this faculty by the way in which he took Johnson's first rebuff. Much as it discomposed him, it did not prevent him from calling on Johnson a week afterwards; he called again on the 13th of June, and was delighted to hear Johnson ask why he had not returned sooner; and, in fact, within a week or two from that time the queer Scotch lad had wound himself into Johnson's affections in a way that surprised everybody. Sixteen different meetings and conversations with Johnson, besides those already mentioned, are duly chronicled by Boswell as having made him happy during the six or seven weeks longer he remained in town-some in Johnson's chambers, some in Boswell's, some at supper at the Mitre or another tavern, and one, which lasted a whole day, at Greenwich down the river. At most of these meetings Boswell kept Johnson all to himself; but on the ist of July Goldsmith was with them at the Mitre; and on the 6th, when Boswell gave Johnson a formal supper at the Mitre, Goldsmith was again there, with two other guests. Something like a jealousy of Goldsmith, indeed, on account of his established intimacy with Johnson, and Johnson's professed regard for him, seems to have mingled with the pleasure of Bozzy's first revel of six weeks in Johnson's society. It is exactly at this point of his “Life of Johnson,” at all events, that he introduces his general sketch of Goldsmith with a view to his frequent appearances thereafter in the narrative; and in the
depreciating tone of this sketch, with its often-quoted statements as to Goldsmith's vanity and his ridiculous ways of showing it, we have the anticipation of all that Boswell would let himself feel or think about Goldsmith to the very end. With Roswell, Goldsmith was but the foil to Johnson. And yet-for, though jealous, Bozzy could not but be honest—there are passages, even in this first sketch he gives of Goldsmith, which make amends. He tells us what Johnson said to him of Goldsmith when his name was first mentioned between them. “Dr. Goldsmith,” said Johnson, “is one of the first men we now have as an author, and he is a very worthy man too "-praise which, as Goldsmith was then known only or chiefly by his Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning and his Citizen of the World, seemed rather over the mark to the hearer. Again he informs us how “Goldsmith's respectful attachment to Johnson ” equally struck him, and how Goldsn ith's incidental remarks about Johnson increased his admiration of Johnson's goodness of heart. For example, when some reference was made to Mr. Levett, whom Johnson maintained as a pensioner under his own roof, Goldsmith said to Boswell, “He is poor and honest, which is recommendation enough to Johnson ;” and again, when Boswell referred to some man of known bad character with surprise that Johnson should be kind to such a person, “He is now become miserable,” said Goldsmith, “ and that ensures the protection of Johnson.” On the whole, the relations between Johnson and Goldsmith were so cordial that Boswell must have thought with a pang how much they would be together, and what talk of Johnson's Goldsmith would hear, when he should be in London no longer to partake of such happiness, but away in Utrecht, studying law. If anything could have reconciled him to the coming absence, it was the extraordinary proof given, before he went, how thoroughly he, an unknown Scotch lad, whom Johnson had never seen till he met him in Davis's shop, had won the big man's heart. To have heard Johnson say to him, " There are few people whom I take so much to as you,” was much ; but to hear him farther say, as the day for his departure approached, “I must see thee out of England; I will accompany you to Harwich," was sheer ecstasy. And actually to Harwich Johnson, while all London wondered, did accompany the young cub, giving him good advices all the way, and at last seeing him off. “My revered friend,” says Boswell, " walked down with me to the beach, where we embraced and parted with tenderness, and engaged to correspond by letters, I said 'I hope, Sir, you will not forget me in my
Nay, Sir, it is more likely you should forget me than that I should forget you. As the vessel put out to sea, I kept my eyes upon him for a "considerable time, while he remained rolling his majestic frame in his usual
and at last I perceived him walk back into the town, and he "disappeared."
An event of real importance in the Johnsonian world, which happened shortly after Johnson's return from seeing Boswell off at Harwich, and the rumour of which, if it reached Utrecht, must have greatly interested Boswell, was the foundation of the famous club, unnamed at first, but afterwards called “The Literary Club," which
met at the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho. The original members of this club were Johnson, Reynolds, Burke, Goldsmith, Topham Beauclerk, Bennet Langton, Sir John Hawkins, and Dr. Nugent-to whom were soon added Mr. Chamier, Mr. Dyer, and others. They met one evening a week-Monday evening at first, but it was changed to Friday evening-for supper and talk. The club may have been founded in 1763, but it was certainly in full operation in 1764. From that date, accordingly, Goldsmith's attendances at its meetings, and his enjoyment of what passed there, have to be remembered in our imaginations of the routine of his life. It appears even that, for the convenience of these attendances, or for other reasons, Goldsmith, early in 1764, had a share of some rough chambers in the Temple, “on the library staircase,” in addition to his Islington lodging. Possibly, this was by way of removal from the rooms in Wine Office Court, hitherto retained for sleeping purposes when he was in town.
It was either at some now unknown lodging in town, occupied for some little time, or, more probably, at the Islington apartments in Mrs. Fleming's house, that there occurred, late in 1764, an incident in Goldsmith's life, of which very varying versions have been given, but of which the true account is indubitably Dr. Johnson's. “I “ received one morning,” Johnson long afterwards told Boswell, “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 I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he
was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and “had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the
hottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by “which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for “the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the “landlady I should soon return; and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it for 60l.
I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his “ landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.” If, as appears all but certain, it was to Islington that Johnson had trudged, and the harsh landlady was Mrs. Fleming, the explanation probably is that, owing to some break-down between Goldsmith and Newbery, Mrs. Fleming saw no chance of getting her last quarter's rent and board paid her in the usual manner. What renders this likelier is that Newbery's advances to Goldsmith are found about this date dwindling to very small sums, and that, as if Newbery were proving a broken reed, Goldsmith had recently been negotiating, or proposing to negotiate, with other booksellers, such as Dodsley, Tonson, and Griffin. It was, possibly. for this last bookseller, whose shop was the Garrick's Head in Catherine Street, Strand, and who speculated in music, that the libretto for an intended Oratorio, on the subject of the Captivity in Babylon, was originally written by Goldsmith early in 1764, although afterwards it was sold by him to Dodsley and Newbery conjointly. But what most confirms the conjecture of some coolness between Goldsmith and Newbery at the time in question is that the book-seller to whom Johnson carried the manuscript was not Newbery himself --who, if all had been right between him and Guldsmith, would naturally have been first applied to—but his nephew, Francis Newbery, of Paternoster Row. In giving bol. for it this younger bookseller must have been influenced as much by Johnson's recommendations as by any notion he could have had for himself of the worth of what he had bought. For, though it was the manuscript of the Vicar of Wakefield, it was thrown aside as soon as purchased, to wait young Mr. Newbery's convenience. For the present, therefore, all the satisfaction Goldsmith derived from the exquisite little tale which for a year or two he had been quietly and carefully writing at in. tervals, by way of relief from his compilations and task-work, was the immediate 6ol. brought him by Johnson. Fortunately, however, he had another thing by him, similarly written for his own pleasure, and according to his own best ideas of literary art. This was his poem of the Traveller, the idea of which had occurred to him nine years before during his own continental wanderings, and some fragments of which he had then written and sent home from Switzerland to his brother Henry. On this poem, as well as on the Vicar of Wakefield, he had been for some time engaged in his Islington lodgings, writing it slowly, and bringing it to the last degree of finish, but so diffident of its success as to say nothing about it to his friends. Reynolds, indeed, once visiting him, found him bending over something at his desk, and at the same time holding up his finger in rebuke every now and then to a little dog he was teaching to sit on its haunches in a corner of the room ; and, on looking over his shoulder at the manuscript, he could see that it was a poem and was able to read and remember one couplet. At length, probably at the very time of Johnson's visit of rescue, Goldsmith took Johnson into his confidence in the matter of the poem too. It was highly approved by that judge, who even added a line or two of his own ; the elder Newbery, who may already have been spoken to about it, did not mind promising twenty guineas for it; and on the 19th of December, 1764, it was published, price one shilling and sixpence, with this title, “ The Traveller; or a Prospect of Society: A Poem. By Oliver Goldsmith, M.B.” It was the first publication of Goldsmith's that bore his name, and it was dedicated, in terms of beautiful affection, to his brother, the Rev. Henry Goldsmith.
The publication of the Traveller was an epoch in Goldsmith's life. Now, at last, at the age of six-and-thirty, he stood forth, not as an essayist, compiler, and miscellaneous prose-humorist, half-hidden by a habit of the anonymous, but avowedly as a candidate for those higher and finer honours that belong to the name of English Poet. The time was unusually favourable. Poor as Britain had been, during the whole of the preceding portion of the eighteenth century, in poetry, a: it had once been understood and as it came to be understood again--with Pope as its all-ruling tradition in the world of verse, and only Thomson and one or two more recollected as powers of variation-there was perhaps no point in the century when the British Muse, such as she had come to be, was doing less, or had so nearly ceased to do anything, or to have any good opinion of herself, as precisely about the year 1764. Young was dying; Gray was recluse and indolent ; Johnson had long given over his