Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

person be

of being conspicuous, wherever he was, he fre. never do it sincerely. Take me then with all my quently talked earelessly, without knowledge of faults. Let me write when I please ; for you see I the subject or even without thought.” The ex- say what I please, and am only thinking aloud travagant scheme respecting the Written Moun when writing to you. I suppose you have heard tains, however, seems not to have given way to a of my intention of going to the East Indies. The more rational undertaking at home; and, notwith- place of my destination is one of the factories on standing our author's boast, in his letter to Mr. the coast of Coromandel, and I go in the quality of Hodson, of being “too rich to need assistance," physician and surgeon ; for which the Company has we find him, about this time, induced to relinquish signed my warrant, which has already cost me ten his medical practice, and undertake the manage-pounds. I must also pay fifty pounds for my pasment of the classical school at Peckham. The sage, and ten pounds for my sea-stores; and the master, Dr. Milner, having been seized with a se other incidental expenses of my equipment will vere illness, was unable to attend to the duties of amount to sixty or seventy pounds more. The sahis charge ; and it had been necessary to procure a lary is but trifling, viz. one hundred pounds per person, of classical attainments, to preside over annum; but the other advantages, if a

pruthe establishment, while deprived of his own sup. dent, are considerable. The practice of the place, port. The son of the doctor having studied with if I am rightly informed, generally amounts to not Goldsmith at Edinburgh, knew his abilities as a less than one thousand pounds per annum, for which scholar, and recommended him to his father as a the appointed physician has an exclusive privilege. person well qualified for the situation. Our author This, with the advantages resulting from trade, accordingly took charge of the school, and acquitted with the high interest which money bears, viz. himself in the management so much to the satis- twenty per cent., are the inducements which perfaction of his employer, that he engaged to procure suade me to undergo the fatigues of the sea, the a medical appointment for him under the East In- dangers of war, and the still greater dangers of the dia Company. Dr. Milner had considerable in- climate; which induce me to leave a place where I fluence with some of the directors, and afterwards am every day gaining friends and esteem, and made good his promise, for, by his means, through where I might enjoy all the conveniencies of life. the interest of the director Mr. Jones, Goldsmith I am certainly wrong not to be contented with what was appointed physician to one of the factories in I already possess, trifling as it is; for should I ask India, in the year 1758.

myself one serious question, What is it I want?This appointment seems, for a while, to have what can I answer? My desires are as capricious filled the vivid imagination of our author with as the big-bellied woman's who longed for a piece splendid dreams of futurity. The princely fortunes of her husband's nose. I have no certainty, it is acquired by some individuals in the Indies flattered true; but why can not I do as some men of more him with the hope of similar success; and accord-merit, who have lived on more precarious terms? ingly we find him bending his whole soul to the Scarron used jestingly to call himself the Marquis accomplishment of this new undertaking. The of Quenault, which was the name of the bookselchief obstacle that stood in the way was the ex- ler that employed him; and why may not I assert pense of his equipment for so long a voyage; but my privilege and quality on the same pretensions? his “Present State of Polite Literature in Europe" Yet, upon deliberation, whatever airs I give myhad been, for some time, preparing for the press ; self on this side of the water, my dignity, I fancy, and he seems to have relied that the profits of that would be evaporated before I reached the other. I work would afford the means of enabling him to know you have in Ireland a very indifferent idea of embark. Proposals were immediately drawn up, a man who writes for bread, though Swift and and published, to print the work by subscription. Steele did so in the earliest part of their lives. You These he circulated with indefatigable zeal and imagine, I suppose, that every author by profession industry. He wrote to his friends in Ireland to lives in a garret, wears shabby clothes, and conpromote the subscription in that country, and, in verses with the meanest company. Yet I do not the correspondence with them, he evinces the believe there is one single writer, who has abilities greatest anxiety for its success. In the following to translate a French novel, that does not keep betletter he explains his situation and prospects, and ter company, wear finer clothes, and live more genshows how much he had set his heart on the ex- teely, than many who pride themselves for nothing pedition to the East. It is without date, but writ- else in Ireland. I confess it again, my dear Dan, ten some time in 1758, or in the early part of 1759, that nothing but the wildest ambition coulå prevail and addressed to Mr. Daniel Hodson, his brother- on me to leave the enjoyment of that refined conin-law.

versation which I am sometimes permitted to par. “Dear Sir, —You can not expect regularity in take in, for uncertain fortune, and paltry show. one who is regular in nothing. Nay, were I forced You can not conceive how I am sometimes divided. to love you by rule, I dare venture to say, I could. To leave all that is dear to me gives me pain; but when I consider I may possibly acquire a genteel in it. I can not think the world has taken such independence for life; when I think of that dignity entire possession of that heart (once so suscepwhich philosophy claims to raise itself above con- tible of friendship,) as not to have left a corner tempt and ridicule; when I think thus, I eagerly there for a friend or two; but I flatter myself that I long to embrace every opportunity of separating even have my place among the number. This I myself from the vulgar, as much in my circum- have a claim to from the similitude of our disposistances as I am already in my sentiments. I am tions; or, setting that aside, I can demand it as my going to publish a book, for an account of which I right by the most equitable law in nature, I mean refer you to a letter which I wrote to my brother that of retaliation; for indeed you have more than Goldsmith. Circulate for me among your acquaint- your share in mine. I am a man of few professions; ance a hundred proposals, which I have given or- and yet this very instant I can not avoid the painders may be sent to you, and if, in pursuance of ful apprehension, that my present profession (which such circulation, you should receive any subscrip-speaks not half my feelings,) should be considered tions, let them, when collected, be transmitted to only as a pretext to cover a request, as I have a reMr. Bradley, who will give a receipt for the same. quest to make. No, my dear Ned, I know you are

too generous to think so; and you know me too

proud to stoop to mercenary insincerity. I have a "I know not how my desire of seeing Ireland, request, it is true, to make; but, as I know to whom I which had so long slept, has again revived with so am a petitioner, I make it without diffidence or conmuch ardour. So weak is my temper, and so un- fusion. It is in short this: I am going to publish a steady, that I am frequently tempted, particularly book in London, entitled, “An Essay on the prewhen low-spirited, to return home, and leave my sent State of Taste and Literature in Europe." fortune, though just beginning to look kinder. But Every work published here, the printers in Ireland it shall not be. In five or six years I hope to in- republish there, without giving the author the least dulge these transports. I find I want constitution, consideration for his copy. I would in this respect and a strong steady disposition, which alone makes disappoint their avarice, and have all the additional men great. I will

, however, correct my faults, advantages that may result from the sale of my persince I am conscious of them."

formance there to myself. The book is now printThe following letter to Edward Mills, Esq. dat- ing in London, and I have requested Dr. Radcliff, ed Temple Exchange Coffee-house, August 7, Mr. Lawder, Mr. Bryanton, my brother Mr. Hen1759, gives the title of the book he was about to pub- ry Goldsmith, and brother-in-law Mr. Hodson, to lish, as stated in the foregoing letter.

circulate my proposals among their acquaintance. “Dear Sir,—You have quitted, I find, that plan The same request I now make to you; and have of life which you once intended to pursue, and given accordingly given directions to Mr. Bradley, bookup ambition for domestic tranquillity. Were I to seller in Dame-street, Dublin, to send you a hunconsult your satisfaction alone in this change, I have dred proposals. Whatever subscriptions, pursuant the utmost reason to congratulate your choice; but to those proposals, you may receive, when collected, when I consider my own, I can not avoid feeling may be transmitted to Mr. Bradley, who will give some regret, that one of my few friends has declin- a receipt for the money and be accountable for the ed a pursuit in which he had every reason to expect books. I shall not, by a paltry apology, excuse mysuccess. The truth is, like the rest of the world, I self for putting you to this trouble. Were I not am self-interested in my concern; and do not so convinced that you found more pleasure in doing much consider the happiness you have acquired, as good-natured things than uneasiness at being emthe honour I have probably lost in the change. I ployed in them, I should not have singled you out have often let my fancy loose when you were the on thịs occasion. It is probable you would comply subject, and have imagined you gracing the bench, with such a request, if it tended to the encourageor thundering at the bar; while I have taken no ment of any man of learning whatsoever; what then small pride to myself, and whispered all that I could may not he expect who has claims of family and come near, that this was my cousin. Instead of friendship to enfore his?" this, it seems you are contented to be merely a hap- The same subjects are pursued in another and py man; to be esteemed only by your acquaintance; every interesting letter, written in 1759, but subseto cultivate your paternal acres; to take unmolested quent to the foregoing, to his brother, the Rev. a nap under one of your own hawthorns, or in Henry Goldsmith. Mrs. Mills's bed-chamber, which, even a poet myst “DEAR SIR,—Your punctuality in answering a confess, is rather the most comfortable place of the man whose trade is writing, is more than I had

reason to expect, and yet you see me generally fill "But, however your resolutions may be altered a whole sheet, which is all the recompense I can with respect to your situation in life, I persuade my- make for being so frequently troublesome. The self they are unalterable with regard to your friends behaviour of Mr. Mills and Mr. Lawder is a little

two.

extraordinary. However, their answering neither ticular profession he is designed. If he be assiduyou nor me, is a sufficient indication of their dis- ous, and divested of strong passions, (for passions liking the employment which I assigned them. As in youth always lead to pleasure.) he may du very their conduct is different from what I had expected, well in your college; for it must be owned, that the so I have made an alteration in mine. I shall the industrious poor have good encouragement there, beginning of next month send over two hundred perhaps better than in any other in Europe. But and fifty books, * which are all that I fancy can be if he has ambition, strong passions, and an exquiwell sold among you, and I would have you make site sensibility of contempt, do not send him there, some distinction in the persons who have subscribed. unless you have no other trade for him except your The money, which will amount to sixty pounds, own. It is impossible to conceive how much may may be left with Mr. Bradley as soon as possible. be done by a proper education at home. A boy, for I am not certain but I shall quickly have occasion instance, who understands perfectly well Latin, for it. I have met with no disappointment with French, arithmetic, and the principles of the civil respect to my East India voyage, nor are my reso- law, and can write a fine hand, has an education lutions altered; though at the same time, I must that may qualify him for any undertaking. And confess it gives me some pain to think I am almost these parts of learning should be carefully inculbeginning the world at the age of thirty-one. cated, let him be designed for whatever calling he Though I never had a day's sickness since I saw will. Above all things, let him never touch a royou, yet I am not that strong active man you once mance or novel; these paint beauty in colours more knew me. You scarcely conceive how much charming than nature, and describe happiness that eight years of disappointment, anguish, and study, man never tastes. How delusive, how destructive have worn me down. If I remember right, you are those pictures of consummate bliss! They teach are seven or eight years older than me, yet I dare the youthful mind to sigh after beauty and happiventure to say, if a stranger saw us both, he wouldness which never existed; to despise the little good pay me the honours of seniority. Imagine to your- which fortune has mixed in our cup, by expecting self a pale, melancholy visage, with two great more than she ever gave: and in general, take the wrinkles between the eye-brows, with an eye dis- word of a man who has seen the world, and has gustingly severe, and a big wig, and you may have studied human nature more by experience than a perfect picture of my present appearance. On precept; take my word for it, I say, that books teach the other hand, I conceive you as perfectly sleek us very little of the world. The greatest merit in and healthy, passing many a happy day among a state of poverty would only serve to make the your own children, or those who knew you a child. possessor ridiculous ; may distress, but can not reSince I knew what it was to be a man, this is a lieve him. Frugality, and even avarice, in the pleasure I have not known. I have passed my days lower orders of mankind, are true ambition. These among a parcel of cool designing beings, and have afford the only ladder for the poor to rise to prefercontracted all their suspicious manner in my own ment. Teach, then, my dear sir, to your son thrift behaviour. I should actually be as unfit for the so- and economy. Let his poor wandering uncle's ciety of my friends at home, as I detest that which example be placed before his eyes. I had learned I am obliged to partake of here. I can now neither from books to be disinterested and generous, before partake of the pleasure of a revel, nor contribute to I was taught from experience the necessity of being raise its jollity. I can neither laugh nor drink, prudent. I had contracted the habits and notions have contracted a hesitating disagreeable manner of a philosopher, while I was exposing myself to of speaking, and a visage that looks ill-nature itself; the insidious approaches of cunning; and often by in short, I have thought myself into a settled melan-being, even with my narrow finances, charitable to choly, and an utter disgust of all that life brings excess, I forgot the rules of justice, and placed mywith it. Whence this romantic turn, that all our self in the very situation of the wretch who did not family are possessed with? Whence this love for thank me for my bounty. When I am in the reevery place and every country but that in which we motest part of the world, tell him this, and perhaps reside? for every occupation but our own? This he may improve from my example. But I find mydesire of fortune, and yet this eagerness to dissi- self again falling into my gloomy habits of thinking. pate? I perceive, my dear sir, that I am at intervals

“My mother, I am informed, is almost blind : for indulging this splenetic manner, and following even though I had the utniost inclination to return my own taste regardless of yours.

home, under such circumstances I could not; for to "The reasons you have given me for breeding up behold her in distress, without a capacity of relievyour son a scholar, are judicious and convincing. sing her from it, would add too much to my splenetic I should, however, be glad to know for what par- habit. Your last letter was much too short; it

should have answered some queries I made in my * The " Present State of Polite Literature in Europe," sub. former. Just sit down as I do, and write forward scription price, 35.

till you have filled all your paper; it requires no thought, at least from the ease with which my own | already, I mean that I am your most affectionate sentiments rise when they are addressed to you: friend and brother." for, believe me, my head has no share in all I write; Notwithstanding the ardour with which our aumy heart dictates the whole. Pray give my love thor at first prosecuted his intention of embarking to Bob Bryanton, and entreat him, from me, not to for the Indies, we find soon after that he abandondrink. My dear sir, give me some account about ed the design altogether, and applied himself with poor Jenny.* Yet her husband loves her; if so, renewed vigour to literary pursuits. From what she can not be unhappy.

particular motive this expedition was given up, has “I know not whether I should tell you—yet why never been accurately explained, but most likely it should I conceal those trifles, or indeed any thing, was owing to the immediate impracticability of from you? There is a book of mine will be pub- raising an adequate sum for his equipment. Perlished in a few days, the life of a very extraordinary haps, however, a better reason may be found in the man-no less than the great Voltaire. You know rapid change that took place in our author's circumalready by the title, that it is no more than a catch-stances about this time, in consequence of the inpenny. However, I spent but four weeks on the creased patronage he began to receive from the whole performance, for which I received twenty booksellers. No man had the art of displaying pounds. When published, I shall take some me- with more advantage as a writer, whatever literary thod of conveying it to you, unless you may think acquisitions he had made; and whatever he put his it dear of the postage, which may amount to four hands to as an author, he finished with such felicior five shillings. However, I fear you will not find ty of thought and purity of expression, that it alan equivalence of amusement. Your last letter, I most instantly became popular. Hence the bookselrepeat it, was too short; you should have given me lers were soon bound to him from interest, and the your opinion of the design of the heroic-comical profits they derived from the ready sale of his propoem which I sent you: you remember I intended ductions became the guarantee of his constant emto introduce the hero of the poem as lying in a pal- ployment. He had by this time published the try alehouse. You may take the following speci- " Bee, being Essays on the most interesting Submen of the manner, which I flatter myself is quite jects,” also Essays and Tales in the British Magaoriginal. The room in which he lies, may be de- zine, afterwards collected and published in one volscribed somewhat this way:

ume, besides various criticisms in the newspapers

and reviews, all of which were read with avidity by * The window, patch'd with paper, lent a ray, That feebly show'd the state in which he lay.

the public, and commended by the learned. His The sanded floor that grits beneath the tread;

connexions with literary characters became conseThe humid wall with paltry pictures spread; quently still more extended, and his literary prosThe game of goose was there exposed to view, pects were rendered still more flattering; and hence And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew;

we may the more easily account for the change The seasons, framed with listing, found a place, And Prussia's monarch show'd his lamp-black face.

that took place in his mind with regard to his InThe morn was cold; he views with keen desire

dian appointment. A rusty grate unconscious of a fire;

Our author's toil in the service of the booksellers An unpaid reckoning on the frieze was scored,

was now exceedingly laborious. Independent of And five crack'd tea-cups dress'd the chimney-board.

his contributions to newspapers and magazines, he " And now imagine, after his soliloquy, the land- wrote regularly for Mr. Griffiths in the Monthly lord to make his appearance, in order to dun him Review, from nine till two o'clock every day. His for the reckoning :

friend Dr. Milner had introduced him to Griffiths,

and this work was performed in consequence of a * Not with that face, so servile and so gay, That welcomes every stranger that can pay;

written agreement which was to last for a year. With sulky eye he smoked the patient man,

The remuneration to be given on the part of Mr. Then pull’d his breeches tight, and thus began, etc. Griffiths, was board and lodging, and a handsome " All this is taken, you see, from nature. It is a salary; but it is probable Goldsmith found the

drudgery too irksome, for at the end of seven or good remark of Montaigne's, that the wisest men often have friends, with whom they do not care tual consent. When the “Inquiry into the state

eight months the agreement was dissolved by muhow much they play the fool. Take my present of Polite Literature” was published, Mr. Newberfollies as instances of regard. Poetry is a much easier, and more agreeable species of composi- ry, the bookseller, who at that time gave great ention than prose; and could a man live by it, it couragement to men of literary talents

, became one were no unpleasant employment to be a poet. I

of our author's chief patrons. For that gentleman am resolved to leave no space, though I should fill

he was now regularly engaged in writing or comit up only by telling you, what you very well know piling a variety of minor pieces

, and at the same

time was introduced by his means as a writer in * His youngest sister, who had married unfortunately. Ithe Public Ledger, to which he contributed Chis nese Letters, afterwards published under the title | To a mind of the highest order, richly and various. of the “Citizen of the World."

ly cultivated, Johnson united a warm and geneAt this time also, Goldsmith wrote occasionally rous disposition. Similar qualities, both of the for the British Magazine and Critical Review, con- head and the heart, were conspicuous in Goldducted by Dr. Smollett. To that celebrated wri- smith; and hence, to use an expression of the ter he was originally introduced in consequence of Rambler himself, no two men were, perhaps, ever the taste and accuracy with which he had criticis- better formed to take to one another. The innate ed a despicable translation of Ovid's Fasti, by a benevolence of heart which they mutually displaypedantic schoolmaster; though the intercourse be-ed first drew them together; and so strong was the tween them does not appear to have been kept up attraction, ultimately increased by respect for each for any considerable time, yet Goldsmith is said to other's powers, that their friendship subsisted withhave derived important advantages from the con- out interruption, and with undiminished regard, nexion. It is well known that the liberal soul of for a period of fourteen years. It has been injuSmollett made him the friend of every author in diciously remarked, that this connexion was unfordistress; and it is generally understood that, fortunate for the reputation of Goldsmith, and that, some time, he warmly interested himself in Gold- in the literary circles of the time," he seldom apsmith's success. He not only recommended him peared but as a foil to the Giant of Words.” On to the patronage of the most emiņent booksellers, the contrary, however, the intercourse that subsistbut introduced him to the notice of the first literary ed between these eminent men, would rather apcharacters.

pear to have been productive of the finest illustraNotwithstanding the variety of our author's lite- tion of their respective characters; and such was rary labours, however, no decided improvement in the strength of their mutual attachment, that it his circumstances appears to have taken place till seems to have been the study of each to embellish after the publication of his “Inquiry" in 1759. and exalt the character of the other. Besides, At that time he had lodgings in Green-Arbour Johnson was the giant of intellect as well as the Court, Old Bailey; and, that he must have occu-giant of words, and it is absurd to suppose, that, in pied them rather on principles of economy than the display of his extraordinary powers he would from the excellence of their accommodation, is ever require a foil to heighten their effect. Goldproved by a little anecdote related by one of his smith, it is true, seemed sometimes, as it were, to literary friends. "I called on Goldsmith, at his look up to the great moralist, but it was rather with lodgings," said he, “in March 1759, and found affection than with dread, more with the spirit of him writing his “Inquiry,” in a miserable, dirty- emulation than the despair of equal excellence. looking room, in which there was but one chair; And, on the other hand, in no single instance do and when from civility, he resigned it to me, he we find that Johnson ever looked doron upon Goldwas himself obliged to sit in the window. While smith as inferior to himself: the reverse, indeed, is we were conversing together some one gently much more frequently the case; for the uniform tapped at the door, and being desired to come in, tendency of his remarks on the genius and writings a poor ragged little girl

, of a very becoming de- of our author is to hold him up as the brighest lite. meanour, entered the room, and dropping a cour-rary ornament of his time. Long before his fame tesy said, 'my mamma sends her compliments, and was established with the public, Johnson had justly begs the favour of you to lend her a chamber-pot appreciated his talents, and in a conversation with full of coals?' »

Boswell, concluded with asserting, that "GoldOur author's labours for the booksellers, though smith was one of the first men then existing as an for some time unproductive of general literary author." fame, by degrees procured him the more substan- It has not been ascertained by whom Johnson tial benefits of good living and commodious lodg- and our author were originally introduced to one ings. He soon acquired extraordinary facility in another; but it is generally understood that their compilation, and used to boast of the power of his intimacy commenced in the beginning of 1761. pen in this way of procuring money. According-On the 31st of May, that year, we find Johnson, ly, as early as 1761, we find him removed from for the first time, at a supper in Goldsmith's lodge Green-Arbour Court to Wine-Office Court in ings, in Wine-Office Court, along with a number Fleet-street, where he occupied genteel apartments, of literary friends. Dr. Percy, afterwards Bishop received visits of ceremony, and sometimes gave of Dromore, was one of the party invited, and beentertainments to his literary friends.

ing intimate with the great lexicographer, was reAmong the distinguished characters to whom quested to call at his chambers and take him along Goldsmith had been lately introduced, and with with him. When walking together, to the poet's whom he now regularly associated, either from lodging, Percy was struck with the unusual similarity of disposition or pursuits, the most re- spruceness of Johnson's appearance in the studied markable in point of eminence was Dr. Johnson. neatness of his dress: he had on a new suit of

« AnteriorContinuar »