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Paternoster Row, on the understanding that, for board, lodging, and some small salary besides, he was to write such articles and reviews of books as might be required from him. Griffiths, and (what was worse for Goldy) Mrs. Griffiths, were to be judges of the articles, and were to clip and doctor them to suit.
Behold Goldsmith at last with the pen put into his hand-his one predestined instrument in the world! In the circumstances, however, he does not seem to have taken to it kindly. For five months, indeed, he sat daily in his room in the bookseller's house from nine o'clock till two, and sometimes later, writing, or supposed to be writing, notices of books and such-like for the Monthly Review. His contributions, longer and shorter, in the successive numbers of the Review from April to September 1757, have been picked out from among the articles supplied by other members of the Griffiths staff-Griffiths himself, Ruffhead, Grainger, Ralph, Kippis, Langhorne, &c. They include a paper on Mallet's “Mythology of the ! Celts,” and reviews of Home's “Douglas,” Burke's “ Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful,” Smollett's “ History of England,” Voltaire's “Universal History,” Wilkie's “ Epigoniad," and the “Odes” of Gray. They were fair magazine-articles of the kind then going, and something of Goldsmith's lightness and ease of style is discernible in all or most of them. But, whether because Goldsmith's rate of industry did not satisfy the methodical bookseller, or because Mrs. Griffiths did not like his ways, or because the tampering of both with what he wrote and their general treatment of him hurt his sensitiveness, the engagement, which had been for a year, was broken short at the end of the five months. A new hand, named Kenrick, took Goldsmith's place as Griffiths's resident hack; and Goldsmith was again adrift-not absolutely cashiered by Griffiths, and indeed still writing for him, though they were not on the best of terms, but at liberty to take other work.
Why dwell over the particulars of the next year or two of Goldsmith's anonymous drudgery? Let the merest sketch suffice :-In or about September 1757, after leaving Griffiths, he went into a garret somewhere near Salisbury Square ; and here it was that his youngest brother, Charles, came in upon him, and lived for a day or two with him ruefully, on his way to Jamaica. He was then living on translations from the French and other things, still chiefly for Griffiths, with the Temple Exchange Coffee House, near Temple Bar, as his daily house of call, where letters could be addressed to him, and where he could meet and talk with a few fellow-craftsmen like himself, or somewhat more flourishing. Then he is traced going back for a little while, in his despair, to his ushership at Peckham-only, however, to emerge again and resume literary hackwork. In 1758 he is found living in No. 12, Green Arbour Court, Old Bailey-a dingy little old square, approached from Farringdon Street by a passage called Break-Neck Steps, now all demolished, and surviving only in Washington Irving's description of it when he visited it for Goldsmith's sake, and found it a colony of washerwomen, and slovenly with wash-tubs on the pavement and clothes hung to dry on lines from the windows. Here, when it was much in the same state, Goldsmith lived from some time in 1758 till late in 1760-1.0. till George II. was king no longer, but young George III. reigned
in bis stead. Here, through part of 1758 and part of 1759, he was at his very
Never having quite ceased to hope something from his medical studies and his degree of M.B., he had set his heart on going out to India as a medical officer in the Company's service, and had actually, through Dr. Milner, obtained the promise of some such appointment on the Coromandel coast.
This prospect failing in some unexplained way, he resolved to try for an appointment as surgeon's mate in the Army or Navy. The result appears from an entry in the books of the College of Surgeons. At a Court of the Examiners for the College, held on the 21st of December, 1758, in the Old Bailey, not far from Goldsmith's lodging, various candidates were found qualified for appointments. Among them was a James Barnard, who passed as mate to an hospital ;" after the record of which fact there is this brief entry, “Oliver Goldsmith, found not qualified for ditto.” It was a dreadful blow, not only on account of the shame should the fact become known (it was pretty well kept secret during Goldy's lifetime), but also on account of some immediate consequences. To appear becomingly before the examiners he had wanted a new suit of clothes ; and, though by this time he had begun to have dealings with other publishers than Griffiths—with Newbery, the proprietor of the Literary Magazine, and with Archibald Hamilton, the proprietor of the Critical Review, which Smollett edited—yet it was to Griffiths that he had applied in his difficulty. For four articles contributed in advance for the Monthly Review Griffiths had become his security to the tailor for the new suit, on condition that the suit should be returned or paid for within a certain time. But, four days after Goldsmith's rejection at Surgeons' Hall, his landlord, to whom he was in arrears, was hauled off to prison for debt, and, to help somewhat in the landlady's distress, not only the new suit went into pawn, but the books of Griffiths which Goldsmith had for review. Griffiths, learning the fact, and probably all the angrier with Goldsmith because he had written for Hamilton and the rival Review, demanded his books, called Goldsmith a “sharper" and a "villain," and threatened all sorts of horrors. 'Sir," wrote Goldsmith in reply, “I know of no misery " but a jail to which my own imprudences and your letter seem to point. I have "seen it inevitable these three or four weeks, and, by heavens! request it as a "favour—as a favour that may prevent somewhat more fatal. I have been some “years struggling with a wretched being, with all that contempt which indigence "brings with it, with all those strong passions which make contempt insupportable.” But Griffiths's bark was worse than his bite, and Goldsmith was let live on in Green Arbour Court.
An extract or two from letters written by him to his Irish relatives and friends, either shortly before or shortly after his rejection by the College of Surgeons, will picture him better in this time of his deepest distress than any mere description. "Whether I eat or starve,” he writes to his brother-in-law Hodson at Lissoy, "live "in a first floor or four pair of stairs high, I still remember them [his Irish friends) with " pleasure ; nay, my very country comes in for a share of my affection. Unaccountable "fondness for country, this maladie du pays, as the French call it! Unaccountable
“ that he should still have an affection for a place who never, when in it, received " above common civility ; who never brought anything out of it but his brogue and “his blunders ! Surely my affection is equally ridiculous with the Scotchman's, who “refused to be cured of the itch, because it made him unco' thoughtful of his wise "and bonny Inverary.” He goes on to say that, if he went to the opera, where Signora Columba was pouring forth all the mazes of melody, it only made him sigh for Lissoy fireside and “Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night" from the lips of Peggy Golden, and that, is he climbed Hampstead Hill, the magnificent prospect thence only made him think of the dearer landscape from the little mount before' Lissoy Gate. Again in a letter to an old college friend, Bryanton, whom he jocosely takes to task for having forgotten him : “God's curse, Sir! who am I? Eh! what “am I? Do you know whom you have offended? A man whose character may “one of these days be mentioned with profound respect in a German comment or “Dutch Dictionary ; whose name you will probably hear ushered in by a 'doctis“simus doctissimorum,' or heel-pieced with a long Latin termination. ... There will come a day, no doubt it will-I beg you may live a couple of hundred years longer only to see the day-when the Scaligers and Daciers will vindicate my character,
give learned editions of my labours, and bless the times with copious comments on “the text. You shall see how they will fish up the heavy scoundrels who disregard “me now, or will then offer to cavil at my productions. How will they bewail the “times that suffered so much genius to lie neglected! If ever my works find their “way to Tartary or China, I know the consequence. Suppose one of your Chinese “Owanowitzers instructing one of your Tartarian Chianobacchi-you see I use “Chinese names to show my erudition, as I shall soon make our Chinese talk like “an Englishman to show his. This may be the subject of the lecture, ‘Oliver “Goldsmith flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries. He lived to be an hundred and three years old, and in that age may be justly styled the Sun of Literature and
the Confucius of Europe,'" &c. Again, in a letter to his cousin, Uncle Contarine's i daughter, now Mrs. Lauder: “Alas ! I have many a fatigue to encounter before that “happy time arrives when your poor old simple friend may again give a loose to the “luxuriance of his nature, sitting by Kilmore fireside, recount the various adventures ! “of a hard-fought life, laugh over the follies of the day, join his flute to your harpsichord, and forget that ever he starved in those streets where Butler and Otway
starved before him.” And, best of all, in a long letter to his brother Henry : “ It “ gives me some pain to think I am almost beginning the world at the age of thirty
one. Though I never had a day's illness since I saw you, I am not that strong active man you once knew me. You scarcely can conceive how much eight years of disappointment, anguish, and study, have worn me down. If I remember right, "you are seven or eight years older than me; yet I dare venture to say that, if a “stranger saw us both, he would pay me the honours of seniority. Imagine to your“self a pale melancholy visage, with two great wrinkles between the eyebrows, with “an eye disgustingly severe, and a big wig; and you have a perfect picture of my
present appearance.... I can neither laugh nor drink ; have contracted a hesi
** tating, disagreeable manner of speaking, and a visage that looks ill-nature itself ; * in short, I have thought myself into a settled melancholy, and an utter disgust of "all that life brings with it. . . . Your last letter, I repeat it, was too short ; you “- should have given me your opinion of the design of the heroi-comical poem
which " I sent you. You remember I intended to introduce the hero of the poem as lying "in a paltry alehouse. You may take the following specimen of the manner, which " I flatter myself is quite original. The room in which he lies may be described "somewhat in this way
** The window, patched with paper, lent a ray
goose was there exposed to view,
“ And five cracked teacups dressed the chimney-board.'" This last letter was written in February 1759, and within a month or two after that date things took a turn for the better with Goldsmith. His writings, hitherto, had been but anonymous hackwork in the Monthly Review, the Literary Magazine, and the Critical Review, with two translations from the French, both for Griffiths— one a novel; the other entitled "Memoirs of a Protestant condemned to the Galleys of France for his Religion,” published in two volumes in February 1758, under the borrowed name of James Willington. But one consequence of his quarrel with Griffiths had been an engagement to pay off his unsettled score with that bookseller for the suit of clothes, and earn something besides, by writing A Life of Voltaire, to be published along with a new translation of the Henriade. The life and the translation were advertised by Griffiths in February 1759, as then about to appear ; and, though this intention was not carried into effect, and both remained to be published in another form, the Life was probably ready by March, if not earlier. But, better still, Goldsmith had for some time been engaged on a little treatise of his own designing, which he intended to be his first avowed publication, and on which, accordingly, he was bestowing pains. The batch of letters to his Irish friends and relatives from which we have quoted had been in great part occasioned by his desire to announce to them this forthcoming performance, and to obtain through them Irish subscribers for English copies in advance, so i as to prevent the Dublin booksellers from reprinting it and thus depriving him of the benefits of an Irish sale. Little or nothing seems to have been done in the desired way by his Irish friends when, in April 1759, the book was published in London by the Dodsleys, in a respectable duodecimo, and with the title “An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe." It is the first publication of Goldsmith's in which one need now look for anything of his real mind, and is still well worth reading. Though his name did not appear on the title-page, he had no wish to conceal the authorship, but quite the contrary; and, as the notices of it that immediately or soon appeared were on the whole very favourable (with the exception of one in Griffiths's Monthly Review, written by Kenrick, his successor as the hack for that periodical, and full of personal scurrility), the publication attracted attention to Goldsmith and won him some reputation even in the crowded London market of letters. From that date his connexion with Hamilton, the publisher of the Critical Review, and with Smollett, its editor, became closer, and his services as a contributor more in demand with them; and towards the end of the year 1759 there appears even to have been some competition by knowing ones in the trade” for the use of the light and easy pen which Griffiths had not sufficiently valued. Thus, when in October 1759, the bookseller Wilkie started The Bee, a weekly periodical of essays, dramatic criticisms, &c., price 3d., and also a new magazine called The Lady's Magazine, nominally intended chiefly for lady-readers, who but Goldsmith was the chief essayist and critic in the one, and the principal writer in the other? Not the less for this association with Wilkie in these two periodicals was he a contributor to a third periodical, The Busy Body, started at the same time by another bookseller, Pottinger, and published thrice a week. To be sure, both The Bee and The Busy Body were short-lived—the one reaching but its eighth number, and the other its twelfth. But Goldsmith's papers in them were noted at the time, and those in The Bee were in such demand afterwards that they had to be reprinted; and, after both periodicals had ceased, there were still the Critical Review and the Lady's Magazine to write for.
Acquaintances, too, were multiplying round Goldsmith. Even in his worst distress the sociable creature had made himself at home with his landlord's family ; his flute, and sweetmeats, when he had them, were at the service of the children of Green Arbour Court, some of whom grew up to remember him and tell anecdotes of him; and we hear of one person, an ingenious watchmaker of the neighbourhood, who used to spend evenings with him. Then, according to Thackeray's observation that there never was an Irishman so low in circumstances but there was some other Irishman lower still and looking up to him and going errands for him, there were several fellow-countrymen of Goldsmith clinging to him, to be helped by him when he could hardly help himself—especially a certain Ned Purdon, who had been his schoolfellow. At the Temple Coffee House, also, there were opportunities for something like general society. But in the course of 1759 we have more distinct traces of Goldsmith's contact with known men in London. It was in March in that year, just before the publication of Goldsmith's Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning, that the Rev. Mr. Percy, afterwards Bishop Percy of the Ballads, paid that first memorable visit to him in Green Arbour Court, the queer incidents of which he used afterwards to describe. From that day Percy and Goldsmith were friends for life. Garrick's first encounter with Goldsmith was several months later, and much less pleasant. The secretaryship of the Society of Arts being vacant,