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HIS EARLY WRITINGS.

93

most part, ascertained ; and though thrown off hastily, often treating on subjects of temporary interest, and marred by the Griffith interpolations, they are still characterized by his sound, easy good sense, and the genial graces of his style. Johnson observed that Goldsmith's genius flowered late ; he should have said it flowered early, but was late in bringing its fruit to maturity.

CHAPTER VIII.

Newbery, of Picture-Book Memory. - How to keep up Ap

pearances. — Miseries of Authorship. – A poor Relation. Letter to Hodson.

B

EING now known in the publishing

world, Goldsmith began to find casual

employment in various quarters ; among others he wrote occasionally for the “Literary Magazine,” a production set on foot by Mr. John Newbery, bookseller, St. Paul's Churchyard, renowned in nursery literature throughout the latter half of the last century for his picture-books for children. Newbery was a worthy, intelligent, kind-hearted man, and a seasonable, though cautious friend to authors, relieving them with small loans when in pecuniary difficulties, though always taking care to be well repaid by the labor of their pens.

Goldsmith introduces him in a humorous yet friendly manner in his novel of the “ Vicar of Wakefield.” “ This person was no other than the philanthropic bookseller in St. Paul's Churchyard, who has written so many little books for children; he called himself their friend ; but he was the friend of all mankind. He was no sooner alighted but he was in haste to be gone ; for he was ever on business of importance, and was at that time actually compiling materials for the history of

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES.

95

:

one Mr. Thomas Trip. I immediately recollected this good-natured man's red-pimpled face."

Besides his literary job-work, Goldsmith also resumed his medical practice, but with very trifling success. The scantiness of his purse still obliged him to live in obscure lodgings somewhere in the vicinity of Salisbury Square, Fleet Street ; but his extended acquaintance and rising importance caused him to consult appearances. He adopted an expedient, then very common, and still practised in London among those who have to tread the narrow path between pride and poverty: while he burrowed in lodgings suited to his means, he “hailed,” as it is termed, from the Temple Exchange Coffee-House near Temple Bar. Here he received his medical calls; hence he dated his letters ; and here he passed much of

; his leisure hours, conversing with the frequenters of the place. “Thirty pounds a year,” said a poor Irish painter, who understood the art of shifting, "is enough to enable a man to live in London without being contemptible. Ten pounds will find him in clothes and linen ; he can live in a garret on eighteen pence a week; hail from a coffee - house, where, by occasionally spending threepence, he may pass some hours each day in good company; he may breakfast on bread and milk for a penny ; dine for sixpence ; do without supper; and on clean-shirt-day he may go abroad and pay visits.”

Goldsmith seems to have taken a leaf from this poor devil's manual in respect to the coffeehouse at least. Indeed, coffee - houses in those

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that much familiarity took place at the time be. tween the literary lion of the day and the poor ÆEsculapius of Bankside, the humble corrector of the press. Still the communion with literary men had its effect to set his imagination teeming. Dr, Farr, one of his Edinburgh fellow-students, who was at London about this time, attending the hos. pitals and lectures, gives us an amusing account of Goldsmith in his literary character.

Early in January he'called upon me one morning before I was up, and, on my entering the room, I recognized my old acquaintance, dressed in a rusty, full-trimmed black suit, with his pockets full of papers, which instantly reminded me of the poet în Garrick's farce of • Lethe. After we had finished our breakfast, he drew from his pocket part of a tragedy, which he said he had brought for my correction. In vain I pleaded inability, when he began to read; and every part on which I expressed a doubt as to the propriety was immediately blotted out. I then most earnestly pressed him not to trust to my judgment, but to take the opinion of persons better qualified to decide on dramatic compositions. He now told me he had submitted his production, so far as he had written, to Mr. Richardson, the author of Clarissa, on which I peremptorily declined offering another criticism on the performance."

From the graphic description given of him by Dr. Farr, it will be perceived that the tarnished finery of green and gold had been succeeded by a professional suit of black, to which, we are told, were added the wig and cane indispensable to med.

THE WRITTEN MOUNTAINS.

87

ical doctors in those days. The coat was a secondhand one, of rusty velvet, with a patch on the left breast, which he adroitly covered with his threecornered hat during his medical visits ; and we have an amusing anecdote of his contest of courtesy with a patient who persisted in endeavoring to relieve him from the hat, which only made him press it more devoutly to his heart.

Nothing further has ever been heard of the tragedy mentioned by Dr. Farr; it was probably never completed. The same gentleman speaks of a strange Quixotic scheme which Goldsmith had in contemplation at the time, “ of going to decipher the inscriptions on the written mountains, though he was altogether ignorant of Arabic, or the language in which they might be supposed to be written. “The salary of three hundred pounds,” adds Dr. Farr, “which had been left for the purpose, was the temptation.” This was probably one of many dreamy projects with which his fervid brain was apt to teem. On such subjects he was prone to talk vaguely and magnificently, but inconsiderately, from a kindled imagination rather than a well-instructed judgment. He had always a great notion of expeditions to the East, and wonders to be seen and effected in the Orien. tal countries.

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