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Street of which Johnson was to become an inmate are only too abundant. The best writers of the day could tell of hardships endured in that dismal region. Richardson went on the sound principle of keeping his shop that his shop might keep him. But the other great novelists of the century have painted from life the miseries of an author's existence. Fielding, Smollett, and Goldsmith have described the poor wretches with a vivid force which gives sadness to the reflection that each of those great men was drawing upon his own experience, and that they each died in distress. The Case of Authors by Profession to quote the title of a pamphlet by Ralph, was indeed a wretched one, when the greatest of their number had an incessant struggle to keep the wolf from the door. The life of an author resembled the proverbial existence of the flying-fish, chased by enemies in sea and in air; he only escaped from the slavery of the bookseller's garret, to fly from the bailiff or rot in the debtor's ward or the spunginghouse. Many strange half-pathetic and half-ludicrous anecdotes survive to recall the sorrows and the recklessness of the luckless scribblers who, like one of Johnson's acquaintance, “lived in London and hung looso upon society.”
There was Samuel Boyse, for example, whose poem on the Deity is quoted with high praise by Fielding. Once Johnson had generously exerted himself for his comrade in misery, and collected enough money by sixpences to get the poet's clothes out of pawn. Two days afterwards, Boyse had spent the money and was found in bed, covered only with a blanket, through two holes in which he passed his arms to write. Boyse, it appears, when still in this position would lay out his last half-guinea to buy truffles and mushrooms for his last scrap of beef. Of another scribbler Johnson said, “I honour Derrick for his strength of mind.
One night when Floyd (another poor author) was wandering about the streets at night, he found Derrick fast asleep upon a bulk. Upon being suddenly awaked, Derrick started up; ‘My dear Floyd, I am sorry to see you in this destitute state; will you go home with me to my lodgings?'” Authors in such circumstances might be forced into such a wonderful contract as that which is reported to have been drawn up by one Gardner with Rolt and Christopher Smart. They were to write a monthly miscellany, sold at sixpence, and to have a third of the profits; but they were to write nothing else, and the contract was to last for ninety-nine years. Johnson himself summed up the trade upon earth by the lines in which Virgil describes the entrance to hell ; thus translated by Dryden :
Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,
“Now,” said Johnson, “ almost all these apply exactly to an author; these are the concomitants of a printinghouse."
Judicious authors, indeed, were learning how to make literature pay. Some of them belonged to the class who understood the great truth that the scissors are a very superior implement to the pen considered as a tool of literary trade. Such, for example, was that respectable Dr. John Campbell, whose parties Johnson ceased to frequent lest Scotchmen should
any good bits of work, “Ay, ay, he has learnt this of Cawmell.” Campbell, he said quaintly, was a good man, a pious man. “I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without pulling off his hat. This shows he has good principles, "--of which in fact there seems to be some less questionable evidence. Campbell supported himself by writings chiefly of the Encyclopedia or Gazetteer kind; and became, still in Johnson's phrase, "the richest author that ever grazed the common of literature.” A more singular and less reputable character was that impudent quack, Sir John Hill, who, with his insolent attacks upon the Royal Society, pretentious botanical and medical compilations, plays, novels, and magazine articles, has long sunk into utter oblivion. It is said of him that he pursued every branch of literary quackery with greater contempt of character than any man of his time, and that he made as much as £1500 in a year ;-three times as much, it is added, as any one writer ever made in the same period.
The political scribblers-the Arnalls, Gordons, Trenchards, Guthries, Ralphs, and Amhersts, whose names meet us in the notes to the Dunciad and in contemporary pamphlets and newspapers—form another variety of the class. Their general character may be estimated from Johnson's classification of the "Scribbler for a Party" with the “ Commissioner of Excise," as the “ two lowest of all human beings." “ Ralph," says one of the notes to the
* Dunciad, “ended in the common sink of all such writers, a political newspaper.” The prejudice against such employment has scarcely died out in our own day, and may be still traced in the account of Pendennis and his friend Warrington. People who do dirty work must be paid for it; and the Secret Committee which inquired into Walpole's administration reported that in ten years, from 1731 to 1741, a sum of £50,077 188. had been paid to writers Arnall, now remembered
and printers of newspapers. chiefly by Pope's line,
Spirit of Arnall, aid me whilst I lie !
had received, in four years, £10,997 68. 8d. of this amount. The more successful writers might look to pensions or preferment. Francis, for example, the translator of Horace, and the father, in all probability, of the most formidable of the whole tribe of such literary gladiators, received, it is said, 9001. a year for his work, besides being appointed to a rectory and the chaplaincy of Chelsea.
It must, moreover, be observed that the price of literary work was rising during the century, and that, in the latter half, considerable sums were received by successful writers. Religious as well as dramatic literature had begun to be commercially valuable. Baxter, in the previous century, made from 601. to 801. a year by his pen. The copyright of Tillotson's Sermons was sold, it is said, upon his death for £2500. Considerable sums were made by the plan of publishing by subscription. It is said that 4600 people subscribed to the two posthumous volumes of Conybeare's Sermons. A few poets trod in Pope's steps. Young made more than £3000 for the Satires called the Universal Passion, published, I think, on the same plan ; and the Duke of Wharton is said, though the report is doubtful, to have given him £2000 for the same work. Gay made £1000 by his Poems ; £400 for the copyright of the Beggar's Opera, and three times as much for its second part, Polly. Among historians, Hume seems to have received £700 a volume ; Smollett made £2000 by his catchpenny rival publication ; Henry made £3300 by his history; and Robertson, after the booksellers had made £6000 by his History of Scotland, sold his Charles V. for £4500. Amongst the novelists, Feilding received £700 for Tom Jones and £1000 for Amelia; Sterne, for the second edition of the first part of Tristram Shandy and for two additional volumes, received £650; besides which Lord Fauconberg gave him a living (most inappropriate acknowledgment, one would say !), and Warburton a purse of gold. Goldsmith received 60 guineas for the immortal Vicar, a fair price, according to Johnson, for a work by a then unknown author. By each of his plays he made about £500, and for the eight volumes of his Natural History he received 800 guineas. Towards the end of the century, Mrs. Radcliffe got £500 for the Mysteries of Udolpho, and £800 for her last work, the Italian. Perhaps the largest sum given for a single book was £6000 paid to Hawkesworth for his account of the South Sea Expeditions. Horne Tooke received from £4000 to £5000 for the Diversions of Purley; and it is added by his biographer, though it seems to be incredible, that Hayley received no less than £11,000 for the Life of Cowper. This was, of course, in the present century, when we are already approaching the period of Scott and Byron.
Such sums prove that some few authors might achieve independence by a successful work; and it is well to remember them in considering Johnson's life from the business point of view. Though he never grumbled at the booksellers, and on the contrary, was always ready to de. fend them as liberal men, he certainly failed, whether from carelessness or want of skill, to turn them to as inuch profit as many less celebrated rivals. Meanwhile, pecuniary success of this kind was beyond any reasonable hopes. A man who has to work like his own dependent Levett, and to make the “modest toil of every day” supply " the wants of every day,” must discount his talents until he