Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Goldsmith, through fear of wounding his feelings. A further misunderstanding was the result of this want of decision and frankness ; repeated interviews and some correspondence took place without bringing matters to a point, and in the mean time the theatrical season passed away.

Goldsmith's pocket, never well supplied, suffered grievously by this delay, and he considered himself entitled to call upon the manager,

who still talked of acting the play, to advance him forty pounds upon a note of the younger Newbery. Garrick readily complied, but subsequently suggested certain important alterations in the comedy as indispensable to its success; these were indignantly rejected by the author, but pertinaciously insisted on by the manager.

Garrick proposed to leave the matter to the arbitration of Whitehead, the laureate, who officiated as his “ reader ► and elbow-critic. Goldsmith was more indignant than ever, and a violent dispute ensued, which was only calmed by the interference of Burke and Reynolds.

Just at this time, order came out of confusion in the affairs of Covent Garden. A pique having risen between Colman and Garrick, in the course of their joint authorship of “The Clandestine Marriage,” the former had become manager and part-proprietor of Covent Garden, and was preparing to open a powerful competition with his former colleague. On hearing of this, Goldsmith made overtures to Colman; who, without waiting to consult his fellow-proprietors, who were absent, gave instantly a favorable reply. Gold

LETTER TO GARRICK.

219

smith felt the contrast of this warm, encouraging conduct, to the chilling delays and objections of Garrick. He at once abandoned his piece to the discretion of Colman. 6 Dear sir,” says he, in a letter dated Temple Garden Court, July 9th, "I am very much obliged to you for your kind partiality in my favor, and your tenderness in shortening the interval of my expectation. That the play is liable to many objections I well know, but I am happy that it is in hands the most capable in the world of removing them. If then, dear sir, you will complete your favor by putting the piece into such a state as it may be acted, or of directing me how to do it, I shall ever retain a sense of your goodness to me. And indeed, though most probably this be the last I shall ever write, yet I can't help feeling a secret satisfaction that poets for the future are likely to have a protector who declines taking advantage of their dreadful situation — and scorns that importance which may be acquired by trifling with their anxieties.”

The next day Goldsmith wrote to Garrick, who was at Litchfield, informing him of his having transferred his piece to Covent Garden, for which it had been originally written, and by the patentee of which it was claimed, observing, “ As I found you had very great difficulties about that piece, I complied with his desire. .... I am extremely sorry that you should think me warm fit our last meeting ; your judgment certainly ought to be free, especially in a matter which must in some measure concern your own credit

and interest. I assure you, sir, I have no disposition to differ with you on this or any other account, but am, with an high opinion of your abilities, and a very real esteem, sir, your most obedient humble servant. OLIVER GOLDSMITH.”

In his reply, Garrick observed, “ I was, indeed, much hurt that your warmth at our last meeting mistook

my

sincere and friendly attention to your play for the remains of a former misunderstanding, which I had as much forgot as if it had never existed. What I said to you at my own house I now repeat, that I felt more pain in giving my sentiments than you possibly would in receiving them. It has been the business, and ever will be, of my life to live on the best terms with men of genius ; and I know that Dr. Goldsmith will have no reason to change his previous friendly disposition towards me, as I shall be glad of every future opportunity to convince him how much I am his obedient servant and well-wisher. D. GARRICK.”

CHAPTER XXI.

More Hack-Authorship. — Tom Davies and the Roman Hig.

tory. — Canonbury Castle. — Political Authorship. — Pecuniary Temptation. — Death of Newbery the Elder.

HOUGH Goldsmith's comedy was now

in train to be performed, it could not be

brought out before Christmas; in the mean time he must live. Again, therefore, he had to resort to literary jobs for his daily support. These obtained for him petty occasional sums, the largest of which was ten pounds, from the elder Newbery, for an historical compilation ; but this scanty rill of quasi patronage, so sterile in its products, was likely soon to cease; Newbery being too ill to attend to business, and having to transfer the whole management of it to his nephew.

At this time Tom Davies, the sometime Roscius, sometime bibliopole, stepped forward to Goldsmith's relief, and proposed that he should undertake an easy popular history of Rome in two volumes. An arrangement was soon made. Goldsmith undertook to complete it in two years, if possible, for two hundred and fifty guineas, and forthwith set about his task with cheerful alacrity. As usual, he sought a rural retreat during the summer months, where he might alternate his

66

[ocr errors]

literary labors with strolls about the green fields.

Merry Islington was again his resort, but he now aspired to better quarters than formerly, and engaged the chambers occupied occasionally by Mr. Newbery, in Canonbury. House, or Castle, as it is popularly called. This had been a huntinglodge of Queen Elizabeth, in whose time it was surrounded by parks and forests. In Goldsmith's day, nothing remained of it but an old brick tower; it was still in the country amid rural scenery, and was a favorite nestling-place of authors, publishers, and others of the literary order.*

A number of these he had for fellowoccupants of the castle; and they formed a temporary club, which held its meetings at the Crown Tavern, on the Islington lower road ; and here he presided in his own genial style, and was the life and delight of the company.

The writer of these pages visited old Canonbury Castle some years since, out of regard to the memory of Goldsmith. The apartment was still shown which the poet had inhabited, consisting of a sitting-room and small bedroom, with panelled wainscots and Gothic windows. The

* See on the distant slope, majestic shows

Old Canonbury's tower, an ancient pile
To various fates assigned; and where by turns
Meanness and grandeur have alternate reign'd;
Thither, in latter days, hath genius fled
From yonder city, to respire and die.
There the sweet bard of Auburn sat, and tuned
The plaintive moanings of his village dirge.
There learned Chambers treasured lore for men,
And Newbery there his A-B-C's for babes.

« PreviousContinue »