페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Boswell, marked with a pencil all the lines he had aside unnoticed or neglected. Perhaps it was for furnished, which are only line 420th,

tunate for literature that it so happened. Gold To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;

smith, with all his genius and taste as a writer,

was but little versed in the arts; and it is extremeand the concluding ten lines, except the last coup- ly questionable whether he was qualified to accomlet but one, printed in italic.

plish the task which he had proposed to himself. Ilow small of all that human hearts endure,

The opinion of his friend, Dr. Johnson, who so That part which laws or kings can cause or cure; well knew and appreciated the extent of his acStill to ourselves in every place consign'd,

quirements, may be given as decisive of such a Our own felicity we make or find;

question. In a conversation with Mr. Boswell, With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy,

the latter remarked, that our author "had long a The lifted are, the agonizing theel,

visionary prospect of some time or other going to Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel, Aleppo, when his circumstances should be easier, To men remote from power but rarely known, in order to acquire a knowledge, as far as might be, Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.

of any arts peculiar to the East, and introduce them Johnson added “ these are all of which I can be into Britain;" to which Johnson rejoined, " of all sure.” They bear indeed but a very trifling pro- men, Goldsmith is most unfit to go out on such an portion to the whole, which consists of four hun- inquiry; for he is yet ignorant of such arts as we dred and thirty-eight verses.

The truth in this ourselves already possess, and consequently could case seems to be, that the report had its origin in not know what would be accessions to our present the avowed fact of the poem having been submit- stock of mechanical knowledge: sir, he would ted to Johnson's friendly revision before it was sent bring home a grinding-barrow, and think he had to the press.

furnished a wonderful improvement.” Goldsmith, Goldsmith, though now universally known and however, seems never to have been conscious of admired, and enabled to look forward to indepen- the deficiency of his own powers for such an undence at home, appears still to have retained a

dertaking. His passion for travel was never exstrong tincture of his original roving disposition. tinguished; and notwithstanding the neglect with He had long entertained a design of penetrating which his application for ministerial patronage had into the interior parts of Asia, to investigate the been treated, his design of penetrating to the East remains of ancient grandeur, learning, and man-frequently revived. Even after the publication of ners; and when Lord Bute became prime minister the “Traveller," as formerly remarked, though enat the accession of George the Third, this desire gaged in several literary undertakings, this design was more strongly excited by the hope of obtain- was still predominant; and had it not been for his ing some portion of the royal bounty, then so libe- characteristic simplicity or carelesness, or perhaps rally dispensed by that nobleman in pensions and his propensity to practical blundering, an opportubenefactions to men of learning and genius. That nity was now thrown in his way that might have he might be enabled to execute this favourite pro- enabled him to fulfil his most sanguine expectaject he resolved on making a direct application to tions. the premier for pecuniary assistance, and the sanc

Among the distinguished characters of the day tion of Government, but, the better to ensure suc- which the merit of the “Traveller," had attached cess, he previously drew up and published in the to its author, either as patrons or friends, Loid Public Ledger, an ingenious essay on the subject, Nugent (afterwards Earl of Clare) was conspicu. in which the advantages of such a mission were ous in point of rank; and his lordship, not satisfied stated with much ability and eloquence. Our poor with his own personal notice and friendship, warniauthor, however, was then but little known, and ly recommended him to his friends in power, parnot having distinguished himself by any popular ticularly to the Earl (afterwards Duke) of Northliterary effort, his petition or memorial was thrown umberland, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland. That

nobleman, on the recommendation of Lord Nu. Goldsmith in this couplet mentions Luke as a person well gent, had read several of Goldsmith's productions, known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite and being charmed with the elegance of their style, simoothly; while those of more attention have been as much expressed a desire to extend his patronage to their perplexed by Luke, as by Lydias in “The Vanity of Human author. After his lordship's return from Ireland, Wishes." The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. In the "Res publica Hungarica," there is an account in 1765, he communicated his intentions to Dr. of a dosperate rebellion in the year 1914, headed by two bro. Percy, who was related to the family of Northumthers of the name of Zeck, George and Luke. When it was berland, and by his means an interview took place quelled, George, and not Luke, was punished, by his head between the poet and the peer. Of this visit to bcing encircled with a red hot iron crown: Corona cande his lordship, Goldsmith used to give the following scente ferrea coronatur. The same severity of torture was exercised on the Earl of Athol, une of the murderers of lames account: "I was invited by my friend Percy to Lo Scotlanu.

Walt upon the duke, in consequence of the salis

faction he had received from the perusal of one of Jispositions will be pleased with such a character. my productions. I dressed myself in the best man-istic instance of his well-known simplicity and ner I could, and after studying some compliments goodness of heart. A benevolent mind will disI thought necessary on such an occasion, proceed- cover in the recommendation of a brother, to the ed to Northumberland-house, and acquainted the exclusion of himself, a degree of disinterestedness, servants that I had particular business with the which, as it is seldom to be met with, is the moreto duke. They showed me into an ante-chamber, be admired. where, after waiting sone time, a gentleman very Though Goldsmith thus lost the only good opelegantly dressed made his appearance. Taking portunity that had offered for obtaining Govern. him for the duke, I delivered all the fine things I ment patronage for his intended eastern expedihad composed, in order to compliment him on the tion, it must be admitted to the honour of the Duke honour he had done me; when, to my great aston- of Northumberland, that when the plan was afterishment, he told me I had mistaken him for his mas- wards explained to him at a distant period, he exter, who would see me immediately. At that in- pressed his regret that he had not been made acstant the duke came into the apartment, and I was quainted with it earlier; for he could at once have so confounded on the occasion, that I wanted words placed the poet on the Irish establishment, with a barely sufficient to express the sense I entertained sufficient salary to enable him to prosecute his reof the duke's politeness, and went away exceedingly searches, and would have taken care to have had chagrined at the blunder I had committed. it continued to him during the whole period of his

In the embarrassment which ensued from this travels. From this time our poet, though he someawkward mistake, our author's eastern project, for times talked of his plan, appears to have for ever which he had intended to have solicited his lord- relinquished the design of travelling into Asia. ship’s patronage, was totally forgotten, and the Independent of every consideration of interest or visit appears to have been concluded without even ambition, the introduction of Goldsmith to a noblea hint as to this great object of his wishes. man of such high rank as the Earl of Northum

Sir John Hawkins, in his “Life of Dr. John-berland, was a circumstance sufficiently gratifying son," has noticed and commented on the circum- to a mind fond of distinction. In fact, the vanity stances attending this interview, with peevishness of our poet, was greatly excited by the honour of and ill-humour. “Having one day,” says he, "a ti e interview with his lordship: and, for a considercall to wait on the late Duke, then Earl of North- abla time after, it was much the subject of allusion umberland, I found Goldsmith waiting for an au- and refernce in his conversation. One of those dience in an outer room: I asked him what had ingen ious executors of the law, a bailiff, having brought him there; he told me, an invitation from come to the knowledge of this circumstance, deterhis lordship. I made my business as short as I mined to turn it to his advantage in the execution could, and as a reason, mentioned that Dr. Gold- of a writ which he had against the poet for a small smith was waiting without. The earl asked me debt. He wrote Goldsmith a letter, stating, that if I was acquainted with him? 'I told him I was, he was steward to a nobleman who was charmed adding what I thought was likely to recommend with reading his last production, and had ordered him. I retired, and stayed in the outer room to him to desire the doctor to appoint a place where take him home. Upon his coming out, I asked he might have the honour of meeting him, to conhim the result of this conversation. “ His lord-duct him to his lordship. Goldsmith swallowed ship,” said he, "told me he had read my poem, the bait without hesitation; he appointed the Brimeaning the Traveller,' and was much delighted tish Coffee-house, to which he was accompanied with it; that he was going lord-lieutenant to Ire- by his friend Mr. Hamilton, the proprietor and land, and that, hearing I was a native of that coun- printer of the Critical Review, who in vain remontry, he should be glad to do me any kindness." strated on the singularity of the application. On "And what did you answer," asked I, "to this entering the coffee-room, the bailiff paid his regracious offer?"—“Why,” said he, “I could say spects to the poet, and desired that he might have wothing but that I had a brother there, a clergy- the honour of immediately attending him. They man, that stood in need of help: as for myself, I had scarcely entered Pall-Mall on their way to his have no dependence on the promises of great men; lordship, when the bailiff produced his writ

, to the I look to the booksellers for support; they are my infinite astonishment and chagrin of our author. best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them Mr. Hamilton, however, immediately interfered, for others.”_"Thus,” continues Sir John, "did generously paid the money, and redeemed the poet. this idiot in the affairs of the world trifle with his from captivity. fortunes, and put back the hand that was held out Soon after the publication of the "Traveller," to assist him!"--In a worldly point of view, the Goldsmith appears to have fixed his abode in the conduct of Goldsmith on this occasion was un- Temple, where he ever afterwards resided. Hu doubtedly absurd; but those who have generous apartments were first in the library staircase, neut

in the King's-Bench-walk, and ultimately at No. 2, funeral of Mr. Garrick, became distinguished by in Brick-court. Here he had chambers in the first the title of the Literary Club. The members met floor, elegantly furnished, and here he was often and supped together one evening in every week, at visited by literary friends, distinguished alike by the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard street, Soho. Their their rank, talents, and acquirements. In the num- meetings commenced at seven; and by means of ber of those with whom he now associated, and the inexhaustible conversational powers of Johnson, could rank among his friends, he was able to ex- Burke, and Beauclerk, their sittings were generally hibit a list of the most eminent and conspicuous protracted till a pretty late hour. It was originally men of the time, among whom may be particu- intended that the number of members should be larized the names of Burke, Fox, Johnson, Percy, made up to twelve, but for the first three or four Reynolds, Garrick, Colman, Dyer, Jones, Boswell, years it never exceeded nine or ten; and it was unand Beauclerk, with the Lords Nugent and Charle- derstood that if even only two of these shoul/chance mont. The mention of these names naturally calls to meet, they would be able to entertein one another up the recollection of the famous Literary Club of for the evening. which Goldsmith was one of the earliest members, About the beginning of 1768, the attending or and of which the conversational anecdotes, re- efficient members were reduced to eight; first by ported by Mr. Boswell, have contributed to give so the secession of Mr. Beauclerk, who became esmuch interest to the pages of that gentleman's bi- tranged by the gayer attractions of more fashionaography of Johnson. As our author continued a ble clubs; and next by the retirement of Sir John member of this select society from its foundation till Hawkins. his deaih, and shone as one of its most conspicuous Soon after this it was proposed by Dr. Johnson ornaments, some account of its institution, and a to elect a supply of new members, and to make up notice of the names of its members till the present their number to twelve, the election to be made by time, all of whom have more or less tigured in the babot, and one black ball to be sufficient for the ex literary or political world, may not be unacceptable clusion of a candidate. The doctor's proposal was to many of our readers.

immediately carried into effect by the election of Sir This literary association is said by Mr. Boswell Robert Chambers, Dr. Percy, and the late George to have been founded in 1764, but Dr. Percy is of Colman; and these three were introduced as new opinion that its institution was not so early. Sir members on Monday evening, February 15, 1768. Joshua Reynolds had the merit of being the first to Mr. Beauclerk having desired to be restored to the suggest it to Dr. Johnson and Mr. Burke; and they society, was re-elected about the same time. having acceded to the proposal, the respective friends From this period till 1772 the club consisted of of these three were invited to join them. The.ori- the same members, and its weekly meetings were ginal inembers, therefore, as they stand on the re- regularly continued every Monday evening till Decords of the society, were Sir Joshua Reynolds,* cember that year, when the night of meeting was Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, + altered to Friday. Shortly afterwards there were Mr. Beauclerk, Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. no less than four vacancies occasioned by death. Chamier, and Sir John Hawkins; and to this num- These were supplied, first by the Earl of Charleber there was added soon afterwards Mr. Samuel mont and David Garrick, who were elected on tho Dyer. It existed long without a name, but at the 12th of March, 1773; and next by Mr. (afterwards

Sir William) Jones and Mr. Boswell, the former • Neither Sir Joshua nor Sir John Hawkins had then been of whom was elected on the 2d, and the latter on knighted, nor had Johnson been presented with his diploma the 30th of April following. In adverting to the of LL D.; but both here and on other occasions the parties are election of Mr. Garrick, it may not be deemed imnoticed by their most common appellations. | This gentleman was a physician, father of Mr. Burke's Hawkins, in his “ Life of Johnson.” Speaking

pertinent to notice an error on the part of Sir John wise; not the Dr. Nugent who published some volumes of iravels, and several philosophical works for whom he has been of that gentleman's wish to become a member of sometimes mistaken. The above Dr. Nugent was a very the club, “Garrick,” says the knight, “trusted that amiable man, and highly respected by his contemporaries. the least intimation of a desire to come among us

* This gentleman was one of the intimate friends of Mr. would procure him a ready admission; but in this Burke, who inserted in the public papers the following cha. he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; racter of him at the time of his death, which happened on Monday, September 14, 1772:

"On Monday evening died at his lodgings in Castle-street, those few who had the happiness of knowing intimately that Leicester Fields, Samuel Dyer, Esq., Fellow of the Royal So- valuable unostentatious man; and his death is to them a low ciety. He was a man of profound and general erudition; and irreparable." his sagacity and judgment were fully equal to the extent of his Mr. Dyer was held in high estimation for his erudition by learning. His mind was candid, sincere, benevolent; his Dr. Johnson, but we know not of any literary work in which friendship disinterested and unalterable. The modesty, sim. he was concerned, except that he corrected and improved the plicity, and sweetness of his manners, rendered his conversa.translation of Plutarch's Lives, by Dryden and others, when ton as amiable as it was instructive, and endeared him to it was revived by Tonson.

And when I could find no objection to receiving surely a considerable man.” Sheridan had accordhim, exclaimed, "he will disturb us by his buf- ingly the honour to be elected. The importance foonery!” and afterwards so managed matters, that thus attached by its members to this celebrated he was never formally proposed, and by conse- club, seems justified by time and public opinion. quence never admitted,

No association of a like kind has existed, and reIn justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, tained its original high character, for so long a peMr. Boswell has rectified this mis-statement. “The riod; and none has ever been composed of men so truth is,” says he, “that not very long after the in- remarkable for extraordinary talent. stitution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was In 17*4, an accession of new members was addspeaking of it to Garrick: ‘I like it much (said the ed by the election of the Hon. Charles James Fox, latter); I think I shall be of you.' When Sir Sir Charles Bunbury, Dr. George Fordyce, and Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was George Steevens, Esq.; and this brings the annals much displeased with the actor's conceit. 'He'll of the club down to the death of Goldsmith. Either be of us (said Johnson), how does he know we will then, or soon after, the number of the members was permit him? The first duke in England has no increased to thirty; and, in 1776, instead of supright to hold such language.' However, when ping once a week, they resolved to dine together Garrick was regularly proposed some time after once a-fortnight during the sitting of Parliament; wards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary and now the meetings take place every other Tuesoffence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly sup- day at Parsloe's, in St. James's-street. It is believe ported him; and he was accordingly elected, was a ed, that this increase in the number of the memmost agreeable member, and continued to attend bers, originally limited to twelve, took place in conour meetings to the time of his death.” This state- sequence of a suggestion on the part of our author. ment, while it corrects the inaccuracy of Sir John, Conversing with Johnson and Sir Joshua Reyaffords also a proof of the estimation in which the nolds one day, Goldsmith remarked, “that he wishLiterary Club was held by its own members, and the ed for some additional members to the Literary nicety that might be opposed to the admission of a Club, to give it an agreeable variety; for (said he) candidate. The founders appear to have been there can be nothing new among us; we have trasomewhat vain of the institution, both as unique in velled over one another's minds.” Johnson, howits kind, and as distinguished by the learning and ever, did not like the idea that his mind could be talent of its members. Dr. Johnson, in particular, travelled over or exhausted, and seemed rather disseems to have had a sort of paternal anxiety for its pleased; but Sir Joshua thought Goldsmith in the prosperity and perpetuation, and on many occasions right, observing, that “where people have lived a exhibited almost as jealous a care of its purity and great deal together, they know what each of them reputation as of his own. Talking of a certain will say on every subject. A new understanding, lord one day, a man of coarse manners, but a man therefore, is desirable; because, though it may only of abilities and information, “I don't say,” con- furnish the same sense upon a question which tinued Johnson, “he is a man I would set at the would have been furnished by those with whom we head of a nation, though perhaps he may be as are accustomed to live, yet this sense will have a good as the next prime minister that comes : but he different colouring, and colouring is of much effect is a man to be at the head of a club, I don't say our in every thing else as well as painting."* club, for there is no such club.On another occasion, when it was mentioned to him by Mr.

• From the institution of the Literary Club to the present Beauclerk that Dr. Dodd had once wished to be a cime, it is believed that the following is a correct list of the member of the club, Johnson observed, “I should members:be sorry indeed if any of our club were hanged," and added, jocularly, “I will not say but some of Lord Ashburton (Dunning.) Dr. Douglas, Bish por Salla

Sir Joseph Banks.

bury. them deserve it," alluding to their politics and re

Marquis of Bath.

Mr. Dyer. ligion, which were frequently in opposition to his · Dr. Barnard, Bishop of Kila- 'Lord Elliot own. But the high regard in which the doctor held this association was most strikingly evinced in Mr. Topham Beauclerk. • Dr. George Fordyce. the election of Mr. Sheridan. In return for some * Sir Charles Blagden. "Right Hon. C. J. Fox literary civilities received from that gentleman while

Sir Charles Bunbury. he had as yet only figured as a dramatist

, Johnson · Right Hon. Edmund Burke. 'Dr. Goldsmith. thought the finest compliment he could bestow would · Richard Burke (his son.) be to procure his election to the Literary Club.l. Dr. Burney.

Dr. Hinchliffe, Bishop of Pe When the ballot was proposed, therefore, he ex

loe,

. Rev. Dr. Farmer.

Mr. Boswell.

David Garrick.
* Mr. Gibbon.

* Sir William Hamilton. Sir John Hawking.

terborough erted his iniuence, and concluded his recommenda

• Dr. Johnson tion of the candidate by remarking, that “ he who · George Colman. • Sir William Jones, has written the two best coinedies of 's age,

is
Mr. Courtney.

Mr. Langton

Sir Robert Chambers,
Mr. Chamier.
* Earl of Charlemont.

In a society thus composed of men distinguished self is very true, he always gets the better when he for genius, learning, and rank, where the chief ob- argues alone: meaning, that he is master of a subject of the institution was social and literary enjoy-ject in his study, and can write well upon it; but ment, it is certainly interesting to know what kind when he comes into company grows confused, and of intellectual sauce was usually served up to give a unable to talk. Take him as a poet, his "Travelzest to their periodical suppers. Happily, Mr. ler" is a very fine performance; ay, and so is his Boswell has supplied such a desideratum; and as a "Deserted Village,” were it not sometimes too fair specimen of the numerous conversations which much the echo of his “Traveller.” Whether, inhe has reported of the members, it may not be un- deed, we take him as a poet, as a comic writer, or amusing to our readers to be presented with part of as a historian, he stands in the first class.' Boswell, the discussion which took place at the time of his ' A historian! my dear sir, you will not surely rank own election in April, 1773, and a full report of his compilation of the Roman History with the the sitting of the club on the 24th of March, 1775. works of other historians of this age?” Johnson, This we do with the more pleasure, on account of 'Why, who is before him?' Boswell, Hume, Ro the first discussion being in some sort illustrative of bertson, Lord Lyttleton,' Johnson (his antipathy the character and writings of our author. to the Scotch beginning to rise,) 'I have not read

“On Friday, April 30,” says Mr. Boswell, “1 Hume; but, doubtless, Goldsmith's History is betdined with Dr. Johnson at Mr. Beauclerk's, where ter than the verbiage of Robertson, or the foppery were Lord Charlemont, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of Dalrymple. Boswell, 'Will you not admit the some more members of the Literary Club, whom he superiority of Robertson, in whose History we find nad obligingly invited to meet me, as I was this such penetration, such painting?" Johnson, 'Sir, evening to be balloted for as candidate for admission you must consider how that penetration and that into that distinguished society. Johnson had done painting are employed. It is not history; it is imame the honour to propose me, and Beauclerk was gination. He who describes what he never saw, very zealous for me,

draws from fancy. Robertson paints minds as “Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson said, 'It Sir Joshua paints faces in a history-piece: he imais amazing how little Goldsmith knows. He sel-gines a heroic countenance. You must look upon dom comes where he is not more ignorant than any Robertson's work as romance, and try it by that one else,' Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘Yet there is no standard. History it is not. Besides, sir, it is the man whose company is more liked.' Johnson, "To great excellence of a writer to put into his book as be sure, sir. When people find a man, of the most much as his book will hold. Goldsmith has dono distinguished abilities as a writer, their inferior this in his History. Now Robertson might have while he is with them, it must be highly gratifying put twice as much into his book. Robertson is to them. What Goldsmith comically says of him- like a man who has packed gold in wool: the wool

takes up more room than the gold. No, sir, I al“Duke of Leeds.

ways thought Robertson would be crushed by his

own weight-would be buried under his own orn Earl Macartney.

* Dr. Horsley, Bishop of St. * Mr. Malone

Asaph.

ments. Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want

. Dr. Marlay, Bishop of Clon- Henry Vaughan, M. D.

to know; Robertson detains you a great deal too * Mr. George Steevens. long. No man will read Robertson's cumbrous de •Dr. Nugent.

'Mr. Agmendesham Vesey. tail a second time; but Goldsmith's pluin narrative Hon. Frederick North (now 'Dr. Warren. Earl of Guilford.)

will please again and again. I would say to Ro • Dr. Joseph Warton. • Earl of Upper Ossory.

bertson what an old tutor of a college said to one of *Right Hon. William Wind. his pupils: “Read over your compositions and *Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dro. ham.

wherever you meet with a passage which you think

Right Hon. George Canning. is particularly fine, strike it out." Goldsmith's Major Rennel • Sir Joshua Reynolds. .

abridgment is better than that of Lucius Florus or

Right Hon. J. H. Frere. Sir W. Scott (now Lord Sto- Right Hon. Thos. Grenville. Eutropius: and I will venture to say, that if you well)

* Rev. Dr. Vincent, Dean or compare him with Vertot, in the same places of the MR. B. Sheridan.

Westminster.

Roman History, you will find that he excels Vertot. Dr. Shipley, Bishop of St. Right Hon. Sir William Sir, he has the art of compiling, and of saying every Asaph.

Grant, Master of the Rolls.
Sir George Staunton.

thing he has to say in a pleasing manner. He is Earl Spencer

now writing a Natural History, and will make it as William Lock, jun

Right Hon. William Drum. entertaining as a Persian Tale.' Mr. George Ellis.

“I can not dismiss the present topic (continues The members whose names are distinguished by an asterisk who owned that he often talked for victory, rather

Mr. Boswell) without observing, that Dr. Johnson, in the foregoing list have all paid the debt of nature. Among those who survive, it is generally understood that the spirit of urged plausible objections to Dr. Robertson's ex. The original as Xiation is still preserved.

(cellent historical works in the ardour of contest,

Lord Minto.
• Dr. French Lawrence,

• Earl Lucan.

orna

fert.

Rev. Thomas Warton.

- Viscount Palmerston.

more.

Mr. Marsden.

• Dr. Adam Smith.

Mr. Charles Wilkins,

mond.

« 이전계속 »