« ПретходнаНастави »
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 begot 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 for that gentleman, in the revisal and correction of
"I received one morning a message from poor various publications; particularly, "The Art of Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and as it Poetry," in 2 vols. 12mo; a "Life of Beau Nash," 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, humour,
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 Nearly about the same time, or early in 1764, a at the slow progress of public opinion. 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 reend 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 him, noticing those only, however, through which the author had personally travelled.
ries and delights, and calling the wanderer home. When the "Traveller" was published, Dr. Johnson wrote a review of it for one of the journals, He draws a picture of each in succession, de- and pronounced it the finest poem that had appearscribing 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 sourcce 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 low.
For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
"SIR JOSHUA.-I was glad to hear Charles Fox say, it was one of the finest poems in the English language.
"LANGTON.-Why were you glad? You surely 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 The poet comes at length to the conclusion, that partiality of his friends was always against him." 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 alcountry 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 apa domestic circle. 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.
Boswell, marked with a pencil all the lines he had aside unnoticed or neglected. Perhaps it was forfurnished, which are only line 420th,
To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;
tunate for literature that it so happened. Goldsmith, with all his genius and taste as a writer, was but little versed in the arts; and it is extreme
and the concluding ten lines, except the last coup-ly questionable whether he was qualified to accomlet but one, printed in italic.
How small of all that human hearts endure,
With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
plish the task which he had proposed to himself. The opinion of his friend, Dr. Johnson, who so well knew and appreciated the extent of his acquirements, may be given as decisive of such a question. In a conversation with Mr. Boswell, the latter remarked, that our author "had long a visionary prospect of some time or other going to Aleppo, when his circumstances should be easier, in order to acquire a knowledge, as far as might be, of any arts peculiar to the East, and introduce them Johnson added "these are all of which I can be into Britain;" to which Johnson rejoined, "of all sure." They bear indeed but a very trifling pro-men, Goldsmith is most unfit to go out on such an portion to the whole, which consists of four hun-inquiry; for he is yet ignorant of such arts as we dred and thirty-eight verses. The truth in this ourselves already possess, and consequently could case seems to be, that the report had its origin in not know what would be accessions to our present the avowed fact of the poem having been submit-stock of mechanical knowledge: sir, he would ted to Johnson's friendly revision before it was sent bring home a grinding-barrow, and think he had to the press. furnished a wonderful improvement." Goldsmith, Goldsmith, though now universally known and however, seems never to have been conscious of admired, and enabled to look forward to indepen- the deficiency of his own powers for such an undence at home, appears still to have retained a dertaking. His passion for travel was never exstrong tincture of his original roving disposition. tinguished; and notwithstanding the neglect with He had long entertained a design of penetrating which his application for ministerial patronage had into the interior parts of Asia, to investigate the been treated, his design of penetrating to the East remains of ancient grandeur, learning, and man- frequently revived. Even after the publication of ners; and when Lord Bute became prime minister the "Traveller," as formerly remarked, though enat the accession of George the Third, this desire gaged in several literary undertakings, this design was more strongly excited by the hope of obtain- was still predominant; and had it not been for his ing some portion of the royal bounty, then so libe- characteristic simplicity or carelesness, or perhaps rally dispensed by that nobleman in pensions and his propensity to practical blundering, an opportubenefactions to men of learning and genius. That nity was now thrown in his way that might have he might be enabled to execute this favourite pro-enabled him to fulfil his most sanguine expectaject he resolved on making a direct application to tions.
the premier for pecuniary assistance, and the sanc- Among the distinguished characters of the day tion of Government, but, the better to ensure suc- which the merit of the "Traveller," had attached cess, he previously drew up and published in the to its author, either as patrons or friends, Lord Public Ledger, an ingenious essay on the subject, Nugent (afterwards Earl of Clare) was conspicuin which the advantages of such a mission were ous in point of rank; and his lordship, not satisfied stated with much ability and eloquence. Our poor author, however, was then but little known, and not having distinguished himself by any popular literary effort, his petition or memorial was thrown
with his own personal notice and friendship, warmly recommended him to his friends in power, particularly to the Earl (afterwards Duke) of Northumberland, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland. That nobleman, on the recommendation of Lord Nu* Goldsmith in this couplet mentions Luke as a person well gent, had read several of Goldsmith's productions, known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite and being charmed with the elegance of their style, smoothly; while those of more attention have been as much expressed a desire to extend his patronage to their perplexed by Luke, as by Lydiat in "The Vanity of Human author. After his lordship's return from Ireland,
Wishes." The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mis
take. In the "Respublica Hungarica," there is an account in 1765, he communicated his intentions to Dr. of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two bro- Percy, who was related to the family of Northumthers of the name of Zeck, George and Luke. When it was berland, and by his means an interview took place quelled, George, and not Luke, was punished, by his head between the poet and the peer. Of this visit to being encircled with a red hot iron crown: Corona cande- his lordship, Goldsmith used to give the following scente ferrea coronatur. The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl of Athol, one of the murderers of James account: "I was invited by my friend Percy to wait upon the duke, in consequence of the satis
faction he had received from the perusal of one of dispositions will be pleased with such a charactermy productions. I dressed myself in the best man-istic instance of his well-known simplicity and ner I could, and after studying some compliments goodness of heart. A benevolent mind will disI thought necessary on such an occasion, proceed-cover in the recommendation of a brother, to the ed to Northumberland-house, and acquainted the exclusion of himself, a degree of disinterestedness, servants that I had particular business with the which, as it is seldom to be met with, is the more to duke. They showed me into an ante-chamber, be admired. where, after waiting some time, a gentleman very Though Goldsmith thus lost the only good opelegantly dressed made his appearance. Taking portunity that had offered for obtaining Governhim for the duke, I delivered all the fine things I ment patronage for his intended eastern expedihad composed, in order to compliment him on the tion, it must be admitted to the honour of the Duke honour he had done me; when, to my great aston- of Northumberland, that when the plan was afterishment, he told me I had mistaken him for his mas-wards explained to him at a distant period, he exter, who would see me immediately. At that in- pressed his regret that he had not been made acstant the duke came into the apartment, and I was quainted with it earlier; for he could at once have so confounded on the occasion, that I wanted words placed the poet on the Irish establishment, with a barely sufficient to express the sense I entertained sufficient salary to enable him to prosecute his reof the duke's politeness, and went away exceedingly searches, and would have taken care to have had chagrined at the blunder I had committed. it continued to him during the whole period of his
In the embarrassment which ensued from this travels. From this time our poet, though he someawkward mistake, our author's eastern project, for times talked of his plan, appears to have for ever which he had intended to have solicited his lord-relinquished the design of travelling into Asia. ship's patronage, was totally forgotten, and the Independent of every consideration of interest or
visit appears to have been concluded without even ambition, the introduction of Goldsmith to a noblea hint as to this great object of his wishes. man of such high rank as the Earl of Northum
Sir John Hawkins, in his "Life of Dr. John-berland, was a circumstance sufficiently gratifying son," has noticed and commented on the circum- to a mind fond of distinction. In fact, the vanity stances attending this interview, with peevishness of our poet, was greatly excited by the honour of and ill-humour. "Having one day," says he, "a the interview with his lordship: and, for a considercall to wait on the late Duke, then Earl of North-able time after, it was much the subject of allusion umberland, I found Goldsmith waiting for an au- and reference in his conversation. One of those dience in an outer room: I asked him what had ingenious executors of the law, a bailiff, having brought him there; he told me, an invitation from come to the knowledge of this circumstance, deterhis lordship. I made my business as short as I mined to turn it to his advantage in the execution could, and as a reason, mentioned that Dr. Gold- of a writ which he had against the poet for a small smith was waiting without. The earl asked me debt.. He wrote Goldsmith a letter, stating, that if I was acquainted with him? I told him I was, he was steward to a nobleman who was charmed adding what I thought was likely to recommend with reading his last production, and had ordered him. I retired, and stayed in the outer room to him to desire the doctor to appoint a place where take him home. Upon his coming out, I asked he might have the honour of meeting him, to conhim the result of this conversation. "His lord-duct him to his lordship. Goldsmith swallowed ship," said he, "told me he had read my poem, the bait without hesitation; he appointed the Brimeaning the 'Traveller,' and was much delighted tish Coffee-house, to which he was accompanied with it; that he was going lord-lieutenant to Ire- by his friend Mr. Hamilton, the proprietor and land, and that, hearing I was a native of that coun- printer of the Critical Review, who in vain remontry, he should be glad to do me any kindness." strated on the singularity of the application. On "And what did you answer," asked I, "to this entering the coffee-room, the bailiff paid his regracious offer?"—"Why," said he, "I could say spects to the poet, and desired that he might have nothing but that I had a brother there, a clergy- the honour of immediately attending him. They man, that stood in need of help: as for myself, I had scarcely entered Pall-Mall on their way to his have no dependence on the promises of great men; lordship, when the bailiff produced his writ, to the I look to the booksellers for support; they are my infinite astonishment and chagrin of our author. best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them Mr. Hamilton, however, immediately interfered, for others."-"Thus," continues Sir John, "did generously paid the money, and redeemed the poet this idiot in the affairs of the world trifle with his from captivity.
fortunes, and put back the hand that was held out Soon after the publication of the "Traveller," to assist him!"-In a worldly point of view, the Goldsmith appears to have fixed his abode in the conduct of Goldsmith on this occasion was un- Temple, where he ever afterwards resided. His doubtedly absurd; but those who have generous apartments were first in the library staircase, next