Слике страница
PDF
ePub

nephew, Francis Newbery, who eventually published the book, may have been the man, although there is a doubt whether Francis Newbery was actively in business at this date. But whether one or the other is not of great moment, since by the time of publication the business relations of the uncle and nephew were of the most intimate and intricate kind. They fold and advertised each other's books,-nay, in one case, at least, John Newbery seems to bave paid for the manuscript of a book which his nephew issued. It would therefore appear that, although their places of business were different, their interests were virtually identical, a supposition which is confirmed by the faet that another Francis Newbery, John Newbery's son, in a manuscript autobiography, foon, we trust, to be given to the public, speaks of the Vicar as if it had been published by his father, apparently regarding the two houses as one firm.

The case, then, stands thus. The manuscript of the Vicar of Wakefield in 1762 lelonged to three persons. They had, however, so little hope of its success that they consented to throw it aside for what has hitherto been Supposed to be some fifteen months, but must now be extended to more than three years, for it was not published until March 27, 1766. After paling languidly through Collins's press at Salisbury, it made its modest débût in two volumes, 12m0., "price fix shillings bound, or five shillings sewed."* A second edition followed on May 31, and a third on August 29. Both of these, like the

* The foliowing is a copy of the original advertisement from the Public Advertiser of March 27, 1766 :

editio princeps, were printed for F. Newbery;" but in December, 1767, John Newbery died at Canonbury House, and owing to arrangements arising out of his decease, the book seems to have passed to his son, Francis Newbery, jun., and T. Carnan, his son's partner, whose joint names figure on the title-page of the 4th edition of 1770. By this time the sale, which must have been rapid in 1766, had gradually grown flow. The fourth edition," writes Mr. Welsh, to whom we are indebted for fome further extracts from the Collins papers, started with a loss.It conhsted of one thousand copies, which coft £58 55. 2 d. The fale realised £157 135. 6d. The profit of £99 was divided equally between Mr. Strahan [here we get the name of a posesor, and perhaps an original poliesor, of a third share], Mr. Collins, and Carnan and Newbery. Collins had so little faith in the book continuing to sell, that he fold his third pare to Carnan for £5 5s." This unhopeful view on Collins's

This Day is published,
In two Volumes in Twelves, Price 6s. bound, or

55. sewed,
The VICAR OF WAKEFIELD,

A Tale.
Supposed to be written by Himself.

“Seperate (sic) miseri cavete fælices.' Printed for F. Newbery, at the Crown in Pater

nofter Row, Of whom may be had, Price Is. 6d. The Traveller, or, a Prospect of Society,” a Poem.

By Dr. Goldsmith.

part is borne out by the circumstances attending the pro. duction of the fifth edition, which is generally supposed to have been isued in 1773, the date upon the title-page. As a matter of fact, its issue was deferred until April, 1774, the month in which Goldsmith died; and notwithstanding the statements of Forster and others, the sixth edition was not published until March, 1779. Aluming that the fifth, like the fourth edition, was limited to one thousand copies, it took nearly nine years to sell two thousand copies. The demand for the book in its early days, or, at all events, for the authorised edition, cannot therefore have been quite so urgent as has been usually Supposed. Its subsequent progress, which it is imposible to pursue in detail here, will be found in the Bibliography which accompanies this Preface.

Among the other questions which speculation has not neglected with regard to Goldsmith's novel, is the part of the country in which the story is laid, and the place which gives it its title. Why Wakefield"? Joseph Cradock, in the confused and rambling Memoirs which he put forth in 1828, explains this (vol. iv., p. 286) by a statement which he professes to make upon Goldsmith's own authority. He says that Wakefield was fixed on as the field of action because the Vicar was written to defray the expenses of a visit to this very town. If, which is in the highest degree improbable, there be any real ground for this story, it would be entirely destructive of Boswell's account after Johnson. But, on the other hand, it is not imposible that the names and localities may have been Suggested by an actual tour in Yorkshire. This idea has been worked out with great ingenuity by Mr. Edward Ford in an article contributed by him in May, 1883, to

b

the National Review. Starting from Wakefield, he identifies the "small cure" seventy miles off, to which Dr. Primrose moves in chap. iii., vol. i., with Kirkby Moorfide in the North Riding. This point established, Welbridge Fair, where Mofes sells the colt (chap. xii., and chap vi., vol.ii.) eafily becomes Welburn; Thornhill Castle, a few miles further, stands for Helmsley; "the wells" (chap. xviii.) for Harrogate; and the races" (ibid.) for Doncaster. The rapid stream," in chap. iii., where Sophia was nearly drowned, he conjectures to have been near the confluence of the Swale and Ouse at Boroughbridge, within thirty miles(p. 21) of Kirkby Moorside, and the county gaol in chap. v., vol. ii., he places eleven miles of(p. 86) at Pickering. But for the further details of this seductive, if not conclusive enquiry, as well as the conjectural identification of Sir William Thornbill with the equally eccentric Sir George Savile, and of the travelling limner of chap. xvi., vol. 1., with Romney the artist, the reader is referred to the article itself.*

It is the happy privilege of editors of first editions that they do not require to concern themselves greatly with variæ lectiones. Not that, in the present case, these are either

* Mr. Ford has recently pointed out to the present writer that in the History of Miss Stanton, published in the British Magazine for July, 1760, and attributed to Goldsmith, there is a minor confirmation of his theory. The old clergyman of the History, which was regarded by Sir James Prior and others as containing the germ of the Vicar of Wakefield, lived within ten miles of H., a town in the north of England.H,argues Mr. Ford, is obviously Helmsley.

numerous or important. After his manuscript was finally disposed of, Goldsmith seems to have troubled himself but little about the book, alleging as his reason a practical if not a sufficient one. He gave me," he said, speaking of his publiser to Dr. Farr, who is quoted in the Percy Memoir of 1801, “£60 for the copy,* and had I made it ever so perfect or correct, I should not have had a shilling more." Still, though no material additions appear to have been made (and there are certainly one or two places where explanation seems needed),t a few minor modifications found their way into subsequent ilues. If the reader will turn to p. 104 of the present volume, he will see that Mr. Burchell's effective and time-honoured comment upon the polite loquacity of Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs and my Lady Blarney is not repeated at the end of each paragraph as in the current versions. This obvious improvement first appears in the second edition. At p. 45, again, the phrase, for he always ascribed to his wit that laughter which was lavished at his simplicity," applied to Mofes, is afterwards omitted-probably because it was too nearly applicable to Goldsmith himself. There are some other alterations, which are scarcely weighty enough to detain us here. Tradition

* Dr. Farr, in repeating Goldsmith's words, qualifies the amount : ." He gave me (I think he said) £60 for the copy, etc.

+ Mr. Ford inftarces, inter alia, the references to my last pamphlet, the archdeacon's reply, and the hard measure that was dealt me" (vol. i., p. 134). Upon this the antecedent text throws no light whatever.

b-2

« ПретходнаНастави »