« ForrigeFortsett »
frequently made upon him:“Yes, sir," was the reply; “but he does not think so yet. When Goldsmith and I published each of us something at the same time,' we were given to understand that we might review each other. Goldsmith was for accepting the offer. I said, No, set reviewers at defiance.” Unhappily, his friend never could do this; and even the lesson of "retaliation” was learned by him too late. Kenrick remained, to the last, his evil genius; and it seems to have been with a sort of uneasy desire to propitiate him that Goldsmith yielded to Griffin's solicitation at the close of the present year, and consented to take part in the editing of a new Gentleman's Journal in which Kenrick was a leading writer, and for which Hiffernan, Kelly, and some others were engaged. It died soon after it was born; and, on some one remarking to Goldsmith what an extraordinary thing so sudden a death was, “Not at all, sir,” he answered: “a very common case; it died of too many Doctors." :
An amusing illustration, which belongs nearly to this
1 Johnson's allusion to his own writing must here mean the edition of Shakespeare, the False Alarm, or the Falkland Islands pamphlet; but as the two latter were very recent, it is most probable that the Shakespeare was meant ; especially as Goldsmith, within a few months of its appearance, was also bringing out the Traveller, the Essays, and the Vicar of Wakefield, and we know moreover that Johnson was writing reviews at this particular time for both the Critical Review and the London Chronicle.
· Boswell, iv. 306–307. v. 153. Johnson clinched his argument by a capital anecdote of old Bentley. “Why, they'll write you down,” said somebody to the slashing old controversialist. “No, sir,” he replied, “depend upon it, no man was ever written own but by himself.” What he said in a letter to Mrs. Thrale is also much to the purpose. “Of the imitation of my style, in a criticism on Gray's Churchyard, I forgot to make mention. The author is, I believe, utterly unknown, for Mr. Steevens cannot bunt him out; I know little of it, for though it was sent me I never cut the leaves open. I had a letter with it representing it to me as my own work; in such an account to the publick there may be humor, but to myself it was neither serious nor comical. I suspect the writer to be wrong-headed; as to the noise which it makes, I have never heard it, and am inclined to believe that few attacks either of ridicule or invective make much noise but by the help of those they provoke.”—Piozzi Letters, ii. 289.
* European Magazine, xxiv. 492.
time, of inconveniences sometimes undergone from his Grub Street protégés and pensioners, will properly dismiss for the present this worshipful company of Kenricks and Hiffernans. The hero of the anecdote had all the worst qualities of the tribe; and “how do you think he served me?” said Goldsmith, relating the incident to a friend. “Why, sir, after staying away two years, he came one evening into my chambers, half drunk, as I was taking a glass of wine with Topham Beauclerc and General Oglethorpe; and, sitting himself down, with most intolerable assurance inquired after my health and literary pursuits, as if we were upon the most friendly footing. I was at first so much ashamed of ever having known such a fellow that I stifled my resentment, and drew him into a conversation on such topics as I knew he could talk upon; in which, to do him justice, he acquitted himself very reputably; when all of a sudden, as if recollecting something, he pulled two papers out of his pocket, which he presented to me with great ceremony, saying, 'Here, my dear friend, is a quarter of a pound of tea and a half-pound of sugar I have brought you; for though it is not in my power at present to pay you the two guineas you so generously lent me, you, nor any man else, shall ever have it to say that I want gratitude.' This," added Goldsmith, “was too much. I could no longer keep in my feelings, but desired him to turn out of my chambers directly, which he very coolly did, taking up his tea and sugar; and I never saw him afterwards." Certainly Hogarth should have survived to depict this scene. No less a pencil could have given us the fastidious face of Beauclerc, than whom no man ever showed a more uniform and even painful sense of the ridiculous when the screws of tea and sugar were produced !
Oglethorpe was a recent acquaintance, and has become, by the compliment of Pope and in the page of Boswell, an
European Magazine, xxiv. 260. Cooke says that Pilkington was the hero of this anecdote, which Goldsmith always told with extraordinary humor; but I doubt if Pilkington reappeared after the white mice. See vol. 52–53.
historical name. Now thirty years older than Goldsmith, he survived him upwards of eleven years ;' and to the last preserved, not only that love of literature and genius which made him the first active patron of Johnson's London while yet the author was quite unknown, but that “strong benevolence of soul” which connects his memory with the colonization of Georgia, as well as those Jacobite leanings which involved him in a court-martial after the affair of '45, and subsequently shelved him as a soldier. He became a member of the House of Commons, sat in several Parliaments, compelled a reluctant inquiry into prisons and punishments, and distinguished himself as much by humane as by hightory crotchets. The sympathies which attracted him to Goldsmith, and continued their intimacy, appear in the commencement of the only letter that survives of their correspondence. “How just, sir,” writes Oglethorpe, “were your observations, that the poorest objects were by extreme poverty deprived of the benefit of hospitals erected for the relief of the poorest.” And he encloses five pounds for his friend to distribute as he may think proper.' Nor were they without the other point of agreement which had attracted Oglethorpe to Johnson. Such associations as Goldsmith had brought from Ireland had disposed him less to the dominant race, of which by birth and breeding he was part, than to the cause of the native population. Thus,
Though he served under Prince Eugene against the Turks, he only obtained his full rank as General a year or two before the present date (in 1765). In April, 1785, Walpole thus describes him: “General Oglethorpe, who sometimes visits me, and who is ninety-five, bas the activity of youth when compared with me. His eyes, ears, articulation, limbs, and memory would suit a boy, if a boy could recollect a century backwards. His teeth are gone ; he is a shadow, and a wrinkled one; but his spirits and his spirit are in full bloom ; two years and a half ago he challenged a neighboring gentleman for trespassing on his manor."— Letters to Mann, iv. 218. On the other hand, see Madame d'Arblay's Memoirs of Dr. Burney, ii. 274. Let me add that he read without spectacles to the last, and retained the use of his senses and his limbs, thus commemorated by Walpole, till he died. He had shot snipes in Conduit Mead, where Conduit Street and Bond Street now stand. See an agreeable notice of him in Lord Mahon's History, v. 73–75.
* Percy Memoir, 95-96.
though the social bearing of politics always interested him most, and he cared little at any time for its party questions, he had something of a half-fanciful Jacobite leaning; dabbled now and then in Jacobite opinions; and was as ready for a hit at the Hanoverian rat as Johnson himself. An anecdote of their stroll one day into Westminster Abbey has preserved for us pleasant record of this. They stood together in Poets' Corner; surveyed the dead but sceptred sovereigns that there, “from storied urn or animated bust,” still rule and glorify the world; and the natural thought rose probably to the minds of both, “Perhaps our names, too, will one day be mingled with theirs." Johnson broke the silence, and whispered the hope in a Latin verse,
“Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis."
They walked away from the Abbey together, and arrived at Temple Bar, where the ghastly remains of the last Jacobite execution were still rotting on the spikes above; and where, till not long before, people had made a trade of letting spyglasses at “a halfpenny a look.” Here Goldsmith stopped Johnson, pointing up, and slyly returned his whisper,
“Forsitan et nostrum ... miscebitur Istis.” 1
· Boswell, iii. 282.
LABORS AND ENJOYMENTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
With the opening of 1769 we find Goldsmith busily engaged upon new projects, bis Roman History being completed; and it was now, Percy tells us, that Johnson took him to Oxford and obtained for him the degree ad eundem of M.B.' The fact must rest on the Bishop's authority; for the present Oxford registrar, though “he inclines to believe that the Bishop of Dromore's impression was correct,” finds a chasm in the University register, which leaves it without positive corroboration. They were at this time much together, it is certain; and if Johnson's opinion of the genius of Goldsmith was now at its highest, it was repaid with very hearty affection. “Look," said Gray, as in walking this year with a friend through a crowded street of the city he saw a large, uncouth figure “rolling" before them: “look, look, Bonstetten! the Great Bear! There goes Ursa Major!” It was Johnson.” “Ah!” said Goldsmith, when such expres
1 Memoirs, 36 (note). The wording of the passage might imply that Goldsmith himself was the authority. “In February, 1769, Dr. Goldsmith made an excursion to Oxford with Dr. Johnson, and was admitted in that celebrated university ad eundem gradum, which he said was that of M.B.” Yet in the text of the Memoir the writer had just expressed it as doubtful whether he ever took any medical degree in a foreign university.
Sir Egerton Brydges's Autobiography, ii. 111. For an interesting account of Bonstetten, who died in Geneva little more than forty years ago at the age of eighty-seven, and whom Brydges knew in that city as a lively little man, with smooth, round, blooming cheeks,” see the same volume, 378–399. If the anecdote related in the text be true, Boswell is wrong in supposing that his father, old Auchinlech, first applied the phrase to Johnson in 1773,