Public Domain Books
Part I. Introduction
In The London Chronicle for December 19–January 1, 1765–the following advertisement appeared:–
“The Philosophers, Politicians, Necromancers, and the Learned in every Faculty are desired to observe that on the 1st of January, being New Year’s Day (Oh, that we may all lead new Lives!), Mr Newbery intends to publish the following important volumes, bound and gilt, and hereby invites all his little friends who are good to call for them at the Bible and Sun, in St Paul’s Churchyard: but those who are naughty are to have none.
“1. The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread: a little boy who lived upon learning.
“2. The Easter Gift; or the way to be good; a book much wanted.
“3. The Whitsuntide Gift: or the way to be happy; a book very necessary for all families.
“4. The Valentine Gift: or how to behave with honour, integrity, and humanity: very useful with a Trading Nation.
“5. The Fairing: or a golden present for children. In which they can see all the fun of the fair, and at home be as happy as if they were there, a Book of great consequence to all whom it may concern.’
“We are also desired to give notice that there is in the Press, and speedily will be published either by subscription or otherwise, as the Public shall please to determine, The History of Little Goody Two Shoes, otherwise called Margery Two Shoes. Printed and sold at The Bible and Sun in St Paul’s Churchyard, where may be had all Mr Newbery’s little books for the children and youth of these kingdoms and the colonies. New Editions of those which were out of print are now republished.
“The publication of the Lilliputian System of Politics is postponed till the meeting of Parliament. This work, which will be replete with cuts and characters, is not intended to exalt or depress any particular country, to support the pride of any particular family, or to feed the folly of any particular party, but to stimulate the mind to virtue, to promote universal benevolence, to make mankind happy. Those who would know more of the matter may enquire of Mr Newbery.”
This quaint and curious announcement, with its sly humour and serious playfulness, is characteristic of the house of John Newbery, in the latter part of the last century; and there is no need to speak here of the fame of the books for children which he published; “the philanthropic publisher of St Paul’s Churchyard,” as Goldsmith calls him, conferred inestimable benefits upon thousands of little folk, of both high and low estate. It is said of Southey when a child that
“The well-known publishers of “Goody Two Shoes,” “Giles Gingerbread," and other such delectable histories, in sixpenny books for children, splendidly bound in the flowered and gilt Dutch paper of former days, sent him twenty such volumes, and laid the foundation of a love of books which grew with the child’s growth, and did not cease even when the vacant mind and eye could only gaze in piteous, though blissful imbecility upon the things they loved."[A]
Many of these little books have been doubtless long since forgotten, though they did not deserve such a fate; but the name of “Goody Two Shoes” is still familiar to the ears of English children, though the book itself may be unknown to thousands of little ones of this later generation.
“Goody Two Shoes” was published in April 1765, and few nursery books have had a wider circulation, or have retained their position so long. The number of editions that have been published both in England and America is legion, and it has appeared in mutilated versions under the auspices of numerous publishing houses in London and the provinces, although of late years there have been no new issues. Even in 1802, Charles Lamb in writing to Coleridge, said–
“"Goody Two Shoes” is almost out of print. Mrs Barbauld’s stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery, and the shopman at Newbery’s hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for them. Mrs Barbauld’s and Mrs Trimmer’s nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge, insignificant and vapid as Mrs Barbauld’s books convey, it seems must come to a child in the shape of knowledge; and his empty noddle must be turned with conceit of his own powers when he has learnt that a horse is an animal, and Billy is better than a horse, and such like, instead of that beautiful interest in wild tales, which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child. Science has succeeded to poetry no less in the little walks of children than with men. Is there no possibility of averting this sore evil? Think what you would have been now, if instead of being fed with tales and old wives’ fables in childhood, you had been crammed with geography and natural history!
“Hang them!–I mean the cursed Barbauld crew, those blights and blasts of all that is human in man and child."[B]
There must, however, be many parents still living who remember the delight that the little story gave them in their younger days, and they will, no doubt, be pleased to see it once more in the form which was then so familiar to them. The children of to-day, too, will look on it with some curiosity, on account of the fact that it is one of the oldest of our nursery tales, and amused and edified their grand-parents and great grand-parents when they were children, while they cannot fail to be attracted by its simple, pretty, and interesting story.
The question of the authorship of the book is still an unsettled one. It was at one time commonly attributed to Oliver Goldsmith, and no one who reads the book will consider it to be unworthy of the poet’s pen. We find, however, in Nichol’s Literary Anecdotes, that
“It is not perhaps generally known that to Mr Griffith Jones, and a brother of his, Mr Giles Jones, in conjunction with Mr John Newbery, the public are indebted for the origin of those numerous and popular little books for the amusement and instruction of children which have been ever since received with universal approbation. The Lilliputian histories of Goody Two Shoes, Giles Gingerbread, Tommy Trip, &c., &c., are remarkable proofs of the benevolent minds of the projectors of this plan of instruction, and respectable instances of the accommodation of superior talents to the feeble intellects of infantine felicity.”
Mr Giles Jones was the grandfather of the late Mr Winter Jones, formerly the Principal Librarian of the British Museum, and the book is attributed to the first-named gentleman in the catalogue of the British Museum. It is claimed also that the book offers internal evidence in support of Mr Giles Jones’ authorship, inasmuch as Goody Two Shoes becomes Lady Jones, and one of the prominent families in the book is also named Jones.
Beyond this, however, there appears to be no evidence as to Mr Giles Jones being the writer, and I think something may be said as to the claim on behalf of the poet Goldsmith, although I am by no means anxious that the honour of having written it should be ascribed either to the one or to the other: the following remarks, which are mainly taken from an article I contributed to the Athenĉum in April 1881, are offered simply as speculations which may not be without interest to lovers of the little book. They may, perhaps, show that there is some reason for attributing the work to Oliver Goldsmith, although, of course, it is not claimed that they absolutely establish the fact.
Having occasion to examine carefully as many of the books for children published by John Newbery as I could procure (and they are as scarce as blackberries in midwinter, for what among books has so brief a life as a nursery book?), I was struck while perusing them with a certain distinct literary flavour, so to speak, which appeared to be common to a group of little volumes, all published about the same period. These were: “Goody Two Shoes,” “Giles Gingerbread,” “Tom Thumb’s Folio," “The Lilliputian Magazine,” “The Lilliputian Masquerade,” “The Easter Gift,” “A Pretty Plaything,” “The Fairing,” “Be Merry and Wise,” “The Valentine’s Gift,” “Pretty Poems for the Amusement of Children Three Feet High,” “A Pretty Book of Pictures,” “Tom Telescope,” and a few others. I give abbreviated titles only, but if space permitted I mould like to quote them in full; they are remarkable no less for their curious quaintness and their clever ingenuity than for their attractiveness to both parents (who, it must not be forgotten, are more often the real buyers of children’s books) and the young people for whom they were written, and they are in themselves most entertaining and amusing reading. This group of little books possesses, moreover, another characteristic that is sufficiently remarkable of itself to be noticed. While they all evince a real genius for writing in a style suited to the capacities of little folk, there is a nameless something about them which, far more than is the case with thousands of other books for the young, is calculated to enforce the attention and excite the interest of “children of a larger growth.”
Now one of this little group, “The Lilliputian Magazine,” is attributed in the British Museum Catalogue to Oliver Goldsmith; and so strong is the family likeness in all the books I have mentioned, that I cannot but believe they are all by the same hand–a belief which I think will be shared by any one who will take the trouble to compare them carefully. But I should advise him to rely on the Newbery editions alone, for grievously garbled versions of nearly every one of these books have been issued from many different houses throughout the country.
Many authorities have supported the view that Goldsmith was the author of “Goody Two Shoes.” Conspicuous among them was Washington Irving, who says, “It is suggested with great probability that he wrote for Mr Newbery the famous nursery story of ’Goody Two Shoes.’” It is said also that William Godwin held this opinion; and I believe there is authority for stating that the Misses Bewick, the daughters of the celebrated engraver, who illustrated an edition of the book for T. Saint, of Newcastle, understood from their father that it was by Oliver Goldsmith.
But let us turn to the book itself and see if it furnishes any evidence on the point. The very title, with its quaint phrasing, shows no common genius, and as Washington Irving says, “bears the stamp of his [Goldsmith’s] sly and playful humour.” As the book was published in 1765, it would most likely have been written just at the time when Goldsmith was working most industriously in the service of Newbery (1763-4), at which period it will be remembered that he was living near Newbery at Islington, and his publisher was paying for his board and lodging.
Without, of course, claiming that similarity of idea in different writings necessarily betokens the same authorship, I think the parallels that are to be found in this little book, with many of the sentiments in Oliver Goldsmith’s acknowledged work–to say nothing of the almost universally recognized likeness to Goldsmith’s style that is found in “Goody Two Shoes” may fairly be considered as throwing some light upon the question.
The most striking of these parallels is perhaps that furnished by the curious little political preface to the work–a preface which is quite unnecessary to the book, and I think would only have been inserted by one who was full of the unjustnesses at which he was preparing to aim a still heavier blow. In describing the parish of Mouldwell, where little Margery was born, an exact picture is drawn of “The Deserted Village,” where
One only master grasps the whole domain And half a tillage tints thy smiling plain;
–– the man of wealth and pride Takes up a space that many a poor supplied: Space for his lakes his park’s extended bounds, Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds.
And by this and other tyrannies, and being also
Scourged by famine from the smiling land,
for he was “unfortunate in his business” at about the same time, Sir Timothy accomplishes his aim, and
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green.
Ruined by this oppression, poor Mr Meanwell is turned out of doors, and flew to another parish for succour.
Where, then, ah! where shall poverty reside To ’scape the pressure of contiguous pride?
Sir Timothy, however, suffers for his injustice and wickedness, for “great part of the land lay untilled for some years, which was deemed a just reward for such diabolical proceedings.”
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay.
Miss Charlotte Yonge, to whom I shall refer again, lays upon this: “If the conjecture be true which attributes this tale to Oliver Goldsmith, we have seen the same spirit which prompted his poem of ’The Deserted Village,’ namely, indignation and dismay at the discouragement of small holdings in the early part of the eighteenth century."[C] Indeed, it may well be that we have in this preface even a more true picture of Lissoy than that given in the poem, which, as Mr William Black says in his monograph on Goldsmith, “is there seen through the softening and beautifying mist of years.”
Much more might be said of the characteristics of this little book, which contains so much that reminds us not only of the style but the matter of many of Goldsmith’s writings. Miss Yonge says: “There is a certain dry humour in some passages and a tenderness in others that incline us much to the belief that it could come from no one else but the writer of ’The Vicar of Wakefield’ and ’The Deserted Village.’ Indeed, we could almost imagine that Dr Primrose himself had described the panic at the supposed ghost in the church in the same tone as the ride to church, the family portrait, or the gross of green spectacles.’[D] We find in “Goody Two Shoes” every one of those distinctive qualities of Goldsmith’s writings which Mr William Black so well summarizes in the book already referred to–"his genuine and tender pathos, that never at any time verges on the affected or theatrical;” his “quaint, delicate, delightful humour;” his “broader humour, that is not afraid to provoke the wholesome laughter of mankind by dealing with common and familiar ways and manners and men;" his “choiceness of diction;” his “lightness and grace of touch, that lend a charm even to” his “ordinary hack work.”
The reprint which is here presented is a photographic facsimile of the earliest complete copy that we have been able to procure. Judging from fragments of earlier editions in the possession of the publishers, it would appear to be printed from exactly the same types as the original issue of April 1765. The copy from which the reprint is made was kindly lent to the publishers by Mr Ernest Hartley Coleridge, whose collection at the South Kensington Museum of eighteenth century books for children is well known. The actual size of that book is 4 inches by 2-3/4, but it has been thought better to print on somewhat larger paper. The original is bound in the once familiar Dutch flowered and gilt pattern paper, and we had hoped to present the reprint in a similar cover, but it was found impossible, as nothing like it could be procured, nor could the manufacturers of the present day exactly reproduce it.
[Footnote A: Essays from the Times. Robert Southey. By Samuel Phillips, pp. 168-169, vol. i.]
[Footnote B: See “The Works of Charles Lamb.” By Percy Fitzgerald, M.A., F.S.A. Vol. 1. Page 420. London: E. Moxon & Co., 1876.]
[Footnote C: “A Storehouse of Stories,” p. 69, First Series.]
[Footnote D: “A Storehouse of Stories,” First Series, preface.]
The Means by which she acquired her Learning and Wisdom, and in consequence thereof her Estate; set forth at large for the Benefit of those,
Who from a State of Rags and Care And having Shoes but half a Pair; Their Fortune and their Fame would fix, And gallop in a Coach and Six. See the Original Manuscript in the Vatican at Rome, and the Cuts by Michael Angelo. Illustrated with the Comments of our great modern Critics.
–––––––––––– The THIRD EDITION. –––––––––––– LONDON:
Printed for J. NEWBERY, at the Bible and Sun in St.Paul’s-Church-Yard, 1766. (Price Six-pence.)
Young Gentlemen and Ladies,
Who are good, or intend to be good,
Is inscribed by
Their old Friend
In St. Paul’s Church-yard.
Little GOODY TWO-SHOES,
Old GOODY TWO-SHOES.
–––––––––––– PART I. ––––––––––––
INTRODUCTION. By the Editor.
All the World must allow, that Two Shoes was not her real Name. No; her Father’s Name was Meanwell; and he was for many Years a considerable Farmer in the Parish where Margery was born; but by the Misfortunes which he met with in Business, and the wicked Persecutions of Sir Timothy Gripe, and an over-grown Farmer called Graspall, he was effectually ruined.
The Case was thus. The Parish of Mouldwell where they lived, had for many Ages been let by the Lord of the Manor into twelve different Farms, in which the Tenants lived comfortably, brought up large Families, and carefully supported the poor People who laboured for them; until the Estate by Marriage and by Death came into the Hands of Sir Timothy.
This Gentleman, who loved himself better than all his Neighbours, thought it less Trouble to write one Receipt for his Rent than twelve, and Farmer Graspall offering to take all the Farms as the Leases expired, Sir Timothy agreed with him, and in Process of Time he was possessed of every Farm, but that occupied by little Margery’sFather; which he also wanted; for as Mr. Meanwell was a charitable good Man, he stood up for the Poor at the Parish Meetings, and was unwilling to have them oppressed by Sir Timothy, and this avaricious Farmer.–Judge, oh kind, humane and courteous Reader, what a terrible Situation the Poor must be in, when this covetous Man was perpetual Overseer, and every Thing for their Maintenance was drawn from his hard Heart and cruel Hand. But he was not only perpetual Overseer, but perpetual Church-warden; and judge, oh ye Christians, what State the Church must be in, when supported by a Man without Religion or Virtue. He was also perpetual Surveyor of the Highways, and what Sort of Roads he kept up for the Convenience of Travellers, those best know who have had the Misfortune to be obliged to pass thro’ that Parish.–Complaints indeed were made, but to what Purpose are Complaints, when brought against a Man, who can hunt, drink, and smoak with the Lord of the Manor, who is also the Justice of Peace?
The Opposition which little Margery’s Father made to this Man’s Tyranny, gave Offence to Sir Timothy, who endeavoured to force him out of his Farm; and to oblige him to throw up the Lease, ordered both a Brick Kiln and a Dog-kennel to be erected in the Farmer’s Orchard. This was contrary to Law, and a Suit was commenced, in which Margery’s Father got the better. The same Offence was again committed three different Times, and as many Actions brought, in all of which the Farmer had a Verdict and Costs paid him; but notwithstanding these Advantages, the Law was so expensive, that he was ruined in the Contest, and obliged to give up all he had to his Creditors; which effectually answered the Purpose of Sir Timothy, who erected those Nuisances in the Farmer’s Orchard with that Intention only. Ah, my dear Reader, we brag of Liberty, and boast of our Laws: but the Blessings of the one, and the Protection of the other, seldom fall to the Lot of the Poor; and especially when a rich Man is their Adversary. How, in the Name of Goodness, can a poor Wretch obtain Redress, when thirty Pounds are insufficient to try his Cause? Where is he to find Money to see Council, or how can he plead his Cause himself (even if he was permitted) when our Laws are so obscure, and so multiplied, that an Abridgment of them cannot be contained in fifty Volumes in Folio?
As soon as Mr. Meanwell had called together his Creditors, Sir Timothy seized for a Year’s Rent, and turned the Farmer, his Wife, little Margery, and her Brother out of Doors, without any of the Necessaries of Life to support them.
This elated the Heart of Mr. Graspall, this crowned his Hopes, and filled the Measure of his Iniquity; for besides gratifying his Revenge, this Man’s Overthrow gave him the sole Dominion of the Poor, whom he depressed and abused in a Manner too horrible to mention.
Margery’s Father flew into another Parish for Succour, and all those who were able to move left their Dwellings and sought Employment elsewhere, as they found it would be impossible to live under the Tyranny of two such People. The very old, the very lame and the blind were obliged to stay behind, and whether they were starved, or what became of them, History does not say; but the Character of the great Sir Timothy, and his avaricious Tenant, were so infamous, that nobody would work for them by the Day, and Servants were afraid to engage themselves by the Year, lest any unforeseen Accident should leave them Parishioners in a Place, where they knew they must perish miserably; so that great Part of the Land lay untilled for some Years, which was deemed a just Reward for such diabolical Proceedings.
But what, says the Reader, can occasion all this? Do you intend this for Children, Mr. NEWBERY? Why, do you suppose this is written by Mr. NEWBERY, Sir? This may come from another Hand. This is not the Book, Sir, mentioned in the Title, but the Introduction to that Book; and it is intended, Sir, not for those Sort of Children, but for Children of six Feet high, of which, as my Friend has justly observed, there are many Millions in the Kingdom; and these Reflections, Sir, have been rendered necessary, by the unaccountable and diabolical Scheme which many Gentlemen now give into, of laying a Number of Farms into one, and very often of a whole Parish into one Farm; which in the End must reduce the common People to a State of Vassalage, worse than that under the Barons of old, or of the Clans in Scotland; and will in Time depopulate the Kingdom. But as you are tired of the Subject, I shall take myself away, and you may visit Little Margery. So, Sir, your Servant,