Claire Harman

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Oliver Goldsmith once wrote a ‘Reverie’ in which he imagined standing in an inn yard, trying to board ‘a small carriage, Berlin fashion’ that would take a few choice passengers to the Temple of Fame. Two hopeful men of letters (names withheld, but easily recognisable by most readers in 1759 as Arthur Murphy and John Hill) were refused entrance by the driver of this ‘fame machine’; Smollett, Johnson and Hume all got on board. Goldsmith himself tried to gain access by showing the driver a copy of The Bee, the magazine in which his odd little fantasy appeared. But The Bee was his undoing; the driver took one look at it and told him to buzz off.

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