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THE Vicar of Wakefield was first published in 1 March, 1766, by Francis Newbery, of Paternoster Row, nephew to John Newbery, “the philanthropic bookCeller in St. Paul's churchyard." There are several contemporary accounts of the circumstances conneEted with its entry into the world, each differing from the rest, though rather in details than in essentials. The earliest of these in point of date is to be found in the volume published by Mrs. Piozzi in 1786, under the title of Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson, LL.D., during the last Twenty Years of his Life [i.e. from 1764 to 1784.] For the greater part of this period Mrs. Piozzi was the wife of Johnson's friend Thrale. At pp. 119-20 she says :
“ I have forgotten the year, but it could scarcely I think be later than 1765 or 1766, that he [Johnson] was called abruptly from our house after dinner, and returning in about three hours, said, he had been with an enraged author, whose landlady presed him for payment within doors, while the bailiffs beset him without; that he was drinking himself drunk with Madeira to drown care, and fretting over a novel which when finished was to be his whole fortune; but he could not get it done for distračtion, nor could be step out of doors to offer it to lale. Mr. Johnson therefore set away the bottle, and went to the bookseller, recommending the performance, and desiring some immediate relief; which when be brought back to the writer, he called the woman of the house directly to partake of punch, and pass their time in merriment.
“It was not till ten years after, I dare say, that something in Dr. Goldsmith's behaviour struck me with an idea that he was the very man, and then Johnson confelled that he was so; the novel was the charming Vicar of Wakefield.”
The next version of the story is given by Sir John Hawkins (Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., 2nd Edn., 1787, pp. 420 and 421):
“Of the booksellers whom he styled his friends, Mr. Newbery was one. This person had apartments in Canonbury-house, where Goldsmith often lay concealed from his creditors. Under a pressing necessity he there wrote his Vicar of Wakefield, and for it received of Newbery forty pounds.”* A few lines further on be says: “In the latter [i.e. poverty] he was at one time so involved, that for the clamours of a woman, to whom he was indebted for lodging, and for bailiffs that waited to arrest him, he was equally unable, till he had made himself drunk, to stay within doors, or go abroad to hawk among the booksellers a piece of his writing, the title whereof my author [my authority?] does not remember. In this distress he sent for Johnson, who immediately went to one of them, and brought back money for his relief.".
After Hawkins comes Boswell. Boswell personally disliked both his predecesors, who he says (vol. i., p. 225,
* This paragraph is not in the ift Edn. of the same year.
ed. 1791) have “ strangely mil-stated” the facts; and he proceeds to give them “authentically” from what he affirms to be Johnson's “ own exaet narration":
“ I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was drejt, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return; and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.”
Last, but to reverse the current phrase–certainly least in importance, is the narrative of Goldsmith's old rival for dramatic honours, Richard Cumberland, whose Memoirs, written by himself, were first published in 1806. “ I have,” he says, at PP. 372-3, vol. i., of the 8vo. edn. of 1807, “heard Dr. Johnjon relate with infinite humour the circumstance of his rescuing him (Goldsmith] from a ridiculous dilemma by the purchase money of his Vicar of Wakefield, which he sold on his behalf to Dodsley, and, as I think, for the sum of ten pounds only. He had run up a debt with his landlady for board and lodging of some fez ·