The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 20. The Temple and Islington
During its composition, Goldsmith had lived much at Islington, having a room in queen Elizabeth’s old hunting lodge, Canonbury tower. In town, he had modest lodgings in the Temple. But £500 was too great a temptation; and, accordingly, leasing for three-fourths of that sum a set of rooms in Brick court, he proceeded to furnish them elegantly with Wilton carpets, moreen curtains and Pembroke tables. Nil te quaesiveris extra, Johnson had wisely said to him when he once apologised for his mean environment, and it would have been well if he had remembered the monition. But Goldsmith was Goldsmith—qualis ab incepto. The new expense meant new needs—and new embarrassments. Hence, we hear of Roman and English Histories for Davies and A History of Animated Nature for Griffin. The aggregate pay was more than £1500; but, for the writer of a unique novel, an excellent comedy and a deservedly successful poem, it was, assuredly, in his own words, “to cut blocks with a razor.” All the same, he had not yet entirely lost his delight of life. He could still enjoy country excursions—“shoemakers’ holidays” he called them—at Hampstead and Edgware; could still alternate “The Club” in Gerrard street with the Crown at Islington and, occasionally, find pausing-places of memory and retrospect when, softening toward the home of his boyhood with a sadness made deeper by the death of his brother Henry in May, 1768, he planned and perfected a new poem, The Deserted Village.