Sterne and Hogarth in parallel
by A. Torelli, E. Notti

Structure of the hypertext



John Loche
Samuel Johnson
A quotation
Coffee Houses






Gin Lane and Beer Street
Masquerades and Operas






David Garrick
Analysis of Beauty


The artist

The principal habitat of authors, in Johnson's age, was Grub Street - a region which, in later years, has ceased to be ashamed of itself, and has adopted the more pretentious name Bohemia. The original Grub Street, it is said, first became associated with authorship during the increase of pamphlet literature, produced by the civil wars. It was a region of holes and corners, calculated to illustrate that great advantage of London life. The history of men who had to support themselves by their pens, is a record of almost universal gloom. Even warm contemporary recognition was not enough to raise an author above the fear of dying in want of necessaries. Many authors, Addison, Swift, and others of less name, had won by their pens not only temporary profits but permanent places. Nor did the patronage of literature reach the poor inhabitants of Grub Street. Addison's poetical power might suggest or justify the gift of a place from his elegant friends; but a man like De Foe, who really looked to his pen for great part of his daily subsistence, was below the region of such prizes, and was obliged in later years not only to write inferior books for money, but to sell himself and act as a spy upon his fellows. No love was lost between the poet and the dwellers in this 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. 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. 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. A few poets trod in Pope's steps. Young made more than 3000 for the Satires called the Universal Passion. Among historians, Hume seems to have received 700 a volume; Smollett made 2000 by his catchpenny rival publication. Among the novelists, Fielding 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. Such sums prove that some few authors might achieve independence by a successful work.1


1 Leslie Stephen, Samuel Johnson. London, New York: Macmillan and co.