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the wings of one of those good old motherly His father was now dead ; his mother dwelt in dames, found in every village, who cluck together a small cottage, “ where she had to practise the the whole callow brood of the neighborhood, to severest frugality." His brother Henry, seven teach them their letters and keep them out of years his senior, but who had married early and harm's way." The name of the old lady, who improvidently, with a curacy of 401. a year, eked had the honor of first putting a book into the hands out a subsistence by school-keeping. None of his of Goldsmith, was Mistress Elizabeth Delap; but relatives could offer him more than a temporary the future poet was a dull boy-in fact, his in- home. What could Oliver do? His friends reostructress described him as impenetrably stupid. ommended the church ; but the youth had con" At six years of age he passed into the hands of scientious scruples. These were, however, at the village schoolmaster, one Thomas (or as he length overruled, and he agreed to qualify himwas commonly and irreverently named, Paddy) self for his sacred functions. But two years of Byrne,” an old soldier, and who was probably probation had to be passed before he was able 10 the original of the famous sketch in the “De- take orders ; and how were they spent? serted Village" :
" It is the sunny time," writes Mr. Forster, A man severe he was, and stern to view, “ between two dismal periods of his life. He I knew him well, and every truant knew ; has escaped one scene of misery ; another is Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
awaiting him; and what possibilities of happiThe day's disasters in his morning face;
ness lie in the interval it is his nature to seize Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee
and make the most of. He assists his brother At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Henry in the school; runs household errands for Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned: his mother ; writes scraps of verses to please Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, his uncle Contarine ;* and, 10 please himself, gets The love he bore to learning was his fault. cousin Bryanton and Tony Lumpkins of the dis
Encouraged by some signs of juvenile quick-trict, with wandering bear-leaders of genteeler ness, Oliver's family decided on sending him to sort, to meet at an old inn by his mother's house, the University, and he was accordingly removed and be a club for story-telling, for an occasional to schools of a higher order ; but it is admitted game of whist, and for the singing of songs. that even there his proficiency was not very bril- First in these three accomplishments, great at liant. “He was a plant that flowered late,'' said Latin quotations, as admirer of happy human faces Johnson to Boswell ; " there was nothing remark- greatest of all, Oliver presides. Cousin Bryanton able about him when young."-"And this," adds had seen his disgrace in college, and thinks this a Mr. Forster, was probably true. It is said that triumph indeed.
Thus the two years the richer a nature is the harder and more slow passed. In the day-time occupied, as I have said, its development is like to be.”
in the village-school ; on the winter's nights at As soon as he had attained the age of sixteen, Conway's ; in the evenings of summer strolling on the 11th of June, 1745, he was entered as a up the Inny's banks to fish or play the flute, otter“sizer," or
," of Trinity College, hunting by the course of the Shannon, learning Dublin. At that time many menial offices and French from the Irish priests, or winning a prize derogatory duties were imposed upon the sizer ; for throwing the sledge-hammer at the fair ar he was called on to sweep the courts, carry up Ballymahon. Two sunny years, with sorrowthe dishes from the kitchen to the table where ful affection long remembered ; but hardly better the fellows dined, and wait upon them during than his college course to help him through the their repast. Goldsmith keenly felt these indig- world.” nities. He had, besides, a savage brute for a But when Goldsmith presented himself before tutor"-one Wilder—"a man of violent and the bishop of the diocese for ordination, his usual capricious temper * who abused him in pres
ill-luck attended him. Whether it was that the ence of his class-mates as ignorant and stupid; bishop was displeased at his unclerical costume, ridiculed him as awkward and ugly; and, at for to do honor to the occasion, the ill-starred cantimes, in the transports of his temper, indulged didate had arrayed himself in scarlet inexpressiin personal violence.'
bles ; or that he showed himself deficient in When very young poor Oliver had had a severe theological information, or that reports of his attack of small-pox, which had shockingly dis-academical irregularities had preceded him—100 figured his originally not very handsome face ; true it is, that he returned home rejected. After his figure was short, thick, and ungainly, and his another brief interval, (during which Oliver offimanners awkward and embarrassed.
ciated as tutor in a neighboring family, and, moresonal appearance was, therefore, anything but over, overcome by his wandering propensity, with prepossessing, and, like many men of genius, he thirty pounds in his pocket, made a ridiculous sally was an irregular and immethodical student. His in quest of adventures,) his family again took college career was ultimately pronounced a counsel together, and it was resolved that he should " wretched failure.” On the 27th of February make trial of the law. He accordingly started the took his bachelor's degree and his final leave * Goldsmith's most generous relative, who relieved him of the University, and returned home to his friends. in all his early straits and difficulties, and who appears for Dublin, on his way to London, where he was | And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still, to keep the usual terms common to Irish students, But mocked all tune and marred the dancer's skill, for which purpose his friends had furnished him Yet would the village praise my wond'rous power, with 501. But he spent the money in Dublin
to have been the only one of his friends who had any real * Washington Irving.
faith in him.
And dance forgetful of the noontide hour. some say he was stripped of it in a gaming-louse On his arrival in England, Goldsmith appears and after a few weeks, penniless, dejected, dis- to have found hiinself worse off than whilst vagheartened, and penitent, trudged back to his abondizing on the continent. But poverty made friends. Physic was the next experiment. For him fertile in shifts and expedients. It is rumored the purpose of studying the healing art he set out that about this time he became a strolling player. for Edinburgh, and arrived there in the autumn Then he went to London ; called at the apotheof 1752. "An instance of the habitual thought- caries' shops, and asked for employment to run lessness belonging to his character,” we are in- with their medicines, spread their plasters, and, formed by Mr. Prior, “occurred at the moment in the language of advertisements, make himself of first setting fout in the northern metropolis. generally useful. Homeless and friendless, he Having procured a lodging and deposited his lug- wandered about the streets at night with a few gage, he eagerly sallied forth to gratify curiosity by hall-pence in his pocket.
“ Ten or twelve years viewing the city, in which, having occupied the later," writes Mr. Forster, “ Goldsmith startled a whole of the day, the approach of night reminded brilliant circle at Sir Joshua's, with an anecdote him that he had neither inquired the name of the of. When I lived among the beggars in Axe landlady, nor the street in which she lived. In Lane,' just as Napoleon, fifty years later, appalled this dilemma, having wandered about in a search the party of crowned heads at Dresden, with his which might have been useless, an accidental story of · When I was a lieutenant in the regimeeting with the cawdy, or porter, whom he had ment of La Fère!!" At last he became an usher employed in the morning in removing to his new in a school, a miserable, browbeaten, worried, and abode, obviated a difficulty that might have occa- despised drudge; where he was
up early and sioned inconvenience." Having passed two win- late," and was the “ laughing-stock of the boys." ters at Edinburgh, Goldsmith inade up his mind He soon quitted this wretched vocation, and was to finish his medical education on the continent. houseless and penniless again. In his dismal After some of his usual mishaps, he made his way poverty he was found out by an Edinburgh fellowto Leyden, (his good-natured uncle, Contarine, student, who furnished him with funds to comproviding the funds,) where he remained about a mence the practice of medicine, in a small way, year; and attended the lectures of Gaubius on among the poor in Bankside, Southwark. Among Chemistry, and Albinus on Anatomy. From his patients was a journeyman printer, who worked Leyden he is supposed to have set out on his fa- for Mr. Samuel Richardson, the author of " Pa mous continental tour, which he commenced in mela,” and then a flourishing publisher. The February, 1755,* furnished, it has been said, printer introduced him to his master, who offered “ with one spare shirt, a flute, and a single him employment, and Goldsmith was enabled to guinea.”
make a fresh start as reader and corrector of the We shall not altempt to follow him in his wan- press. derings. He passed an evening in the society of He did not probably remain long in this situaVoltaire at Paris; at Geneva he became travelling tion. At Edinburgh he had formed an intimacy tutor to a mongrel young gentleman, son of a with the son of a Dr. Milner, who kept a large London pawnbroker ;''and at length, after a classical academy at Peckham; and young Milner, variety of adventures, returned to England in having found out his old acquaintance, made him 1756. It seems quite true, that the greater part a liberal offer to assist in the management of the of his journey was performed on foot, and that he school. He was here kindly treated, but his habits was often indebted to his flute for lodging and a were not those of the pedagogue. The scholars mea). “ Countries wear a very different appear- entertained little respect for him ; and though ance,
," he says, in his Enquiry into Polite he spent his money in buying them sweetmeats, Learning,” 1759, to travellers of different cir- played all sorts of tricks upon him.
“ His small cumstances. A man who is whirled through supplies,” says Mr. Prior, were thus exhausted, Europe in a post-chaise, and the pilgrim who frequently before the stated salary became due, walks the grand tour on foot, will form very when Mrs. Milner would say to him with a smile, different conclusions. Haud inexpertus loquor." upon application for an advance, 'You had beiter, And the well-known lines in the “ Traveller," Mr. Goldsmith, let me take care of your money, are doubtless as true as they are expressive and as I do for some of the young gentlemen ;' to beautiful :
which he would reply, in the same spirit of good How often have I led thy sportive choir,
humor, 'In truth, madam, there is equal need.'” With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire ! At the table of Dr. Milner, he frequently met Where shading elms along the margin grew,
with one Griffiths, the proprietor of the Monthly And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew;
Review." Griffiths, a shrewd, hard man of busi
ness, saw that Goldsmith was clever and very * The dates in Washington Irving's biography are poor, that he was just the animal for hack authorfrequently incorrect. A little more care in revising the ship, and might be had cheap.' He acébrdingly work for the press would have prevented such blunders. Washington Irving.
offered him a permanent engagement as a contrib
ator to the Review, with board and lodging, and sively occupied. He tenanted at first a meao a small fixed salary. Poor Oliver suffered the apartment “somewhere in the vicinity of Salisbookseller to make his own terms, and, " in his bury Square, Fleet Street ;" but, in order to aptwenty-ninth year,” in the words of Mr. Forster, pear more like a gentleman, he directed his letters
sat down to the precarious task-work of author (or “hailed," as it is termed) from the “ Temby profession.” This literary vassalage lasted ple Exchange Coffee-house, near Temple Bar." Give months. Even to poor spirit-broken Gold. Ho probably at this time adopted the notable smith it was loo humiliating to be long endured. expedient of a poor countryman, in going abroad Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths both exerted the privilege to pay visits on clean-shirl-days only, but on other of patching, altering, and (in their own eyes) occasions wisely keeping within doors. His next amending his reviews. They kept him constantly place of residence was "on the first floor of the at the desk, and when he tried to assume a spirit house, No. 12, Green Arbor Court, between the of independence, they accused him of being above Old Bailey, and what was lately Fleet Market."* his situation. The connection with Griffiths was Washington Irving, who many years since dissolved, but Oliver was now fairly embarked in visited this locality on a literary pilgrimage, says, the profession of authorship. He had become a that “ It then existed in its pristine state, and book-seller's hack and a Grub-street scribe ; and was a small square of tall and miserable houses, for many years to come, he was destined to the the very intestines of which seemed turned inside hardest species of garret-loil and mental drudgery. out, to judge from the old garments and frippery
We have hitherto traced his fortunes somewhat that fluttered from every window. It appeared 10 minutely ; but we cannot pretend to follow him be a region of washerwomen, and lines were in every stage of his literary career. That career stretched about the little square, on which clothes is now commemorated as one of the world's great were dangling to dry." It may be as well to facts. It commenced in poverty and obscurity, add, that all traces of this singular shrine of porand terminated in triumph and celebrity. His erty-stricken genius have long since disappeared. privations at first were great, but his ultimate " Green Arbor Court,” says Mr. Forster, “is success was splendid. Though he had fallen upon now gone forever ; its miserable wretchedness days when literature had to fight its own battles, was replaced by the decent comfort of a stable. and the man of letters was left to struggle for The houses, crumbling and tumbling in Goldhimself, he indulged in no repinings or regrets. smith's day, were fairly rolled dowıt some twelve He did not lament that the age of patronage had or fifteen years since; and it became necessary, passed away, and that guineas were no longer for safety sake, to remove what time had spared.” given for dedications and birth-day odes. On the The present Green Arbor Court in the Old contrary, like a good and sensible man, he rejoiced Bailey must not, therefore, he confounded with at the change which, by insuring the independ- the locality tenanted by Goldsmith. It was ence, raised the character of the literary man. whilst residing here that abject poverty betrayed When he had obtained some degree of considera- him into an act of indiscretion for which he aftertion, and while the memory of his early struggles wards bitterly suffered. Before leaving his old was yet fresh in his recollection, he calmly and lodgings, Dr. Milner had procured him an aptruly observed in one of his “ Chinese Letters," pointment as physician to one of the factories on -"At present, the few poets in England no the coast of Coromandel ; and the poet was sudlonger depended on the great for subsistence ; denly dazzled with visions of Oriental splendor. they have now no other patrons but the public; But it appears that he failed to take the necessary and the public, collectively considered, is a good steps 10 secure the magnificent prize, and it was and generous master. It is indeed too frequently transferred 10 another. Disappointed in his Inmistaken as to the merits of every candidate for dian scheme, he turned his attention to the navy, favor, but to make amends it is never mistaken and probably, as Mr. Prior observes, "iirduced by long.” And again—"A life of independence is the example of several acquaintances, and the regenerally a life of virtue. It is that which fits membrance of Grainger and Smollett, who, in the the soul for every generous flight of humanity, spirit of adventure, or for a more extensive obserfreedom, and friendship..
Serenity, vation of mankind, pursued a similar course in health, and affluence, altend the desire of rising early life," he resolved to present himself to be by labor ; misery, repentance, and disrespect, that examined at the College of Surgeons for the of succeeding by extorted benevolence. The humble situation of an "hospital mate." His man who can thank himself alone for the happi- difficulty was to procure a decent suit of clothes ness he enjoys is truly blest; and lovely, far more for the occasion, and in this dilemma he applied lovely, the sturdy gloom of laborious indigence, to Griffiths, who, on being furnished with four than the fawning simper of thriving adulation." articles for the “ Monthly Review," undertook to
It is not uninteresting to trace the gradual become his security to a tailor. In the books of change in Goldsmith's circumstances, as shown in the College of Surgeons there is an entry which the character of the habitations which he succes- we quote without remark, for it is too expressive
to require comment. “ At a court of exaininers * These letters were afterwards remodelled and published under the title of the "Citizen of the World."
* Prior's Life of Goldsmith, vol. I.
held at the theatre, 21st December, 1759 * * Goldsmith's poverty was never accompanied by James Bernard, mate to an hospital. Oliver that guardian pride which kept Johnson from fallGoldsmith found not qualified for ditto."
ing into the degrading shifts of poverty. GoldThe hack author returned to his drudgery, and smith had an unfortunate facility at borrowing, four days afterwards-on a Christmas day!- and helping himself along by the contributions of pawned the clothes in which he had stood his his friends, no doubt trusting, in his own hopeful examination, for the immediate purpose of paying way, of one day making retribution. Johnson some small arrears of rent to his landlady, nose never hoped, and efore never borrowed. In husband had been arrested for debt. He was now his sternest trials he proudly bore the ills he in the hands of Griffiths, who peremptorily de- could not master.
* Though, like manded the return of the unlucky suit. When it Goldsmith, an immethodical student, he had imwas not forthcoming he accused Goldsmith of dis- bibed deeper draughts of knowledge, and made honesty. There is something touching in the himself a riper scholar. While Goldsmith's unhappy man's reply : “Had I been a sharper- happy constitution and genial humor carried him had I been possessed of less good-nature, and abroad into sunshine and enjoyment, Johnson's native generosity, I might surely now have been physical infirmities and mental gloom drove him in better circumstances. I am guilty, I own, of upon himself, to the resources of reading and meanness, which poverty unavoidably brings with meditation ; threw a deeper, though darker enthuit; my reflections are filled with repentance for siasm into his mind, and stored a retentive mem my imprudence, but not with any reinorse for ory with all kinds of knowledge." We might being a villain.'
add, that in the buoyant temper of Goldsmith, and But better days were now in store for him. In the sturdy spirit of Johnson, we discern someMarch, 1759, he published his “ Enquiry into the thing of the inherited and inherent peculiarities present state of Pulile Learning in Europe,” and of race. The patient Saxon and quick-blooded his reputation among the booksellers being now Celt appear in striking contrast ; their virtues and established, and his circumstances now continuing failings were marked and prominent ; upon each to improve, "about the middle of 1760,” says of them the stamp of the national character was Washington Irving," he emerged from his dis firmly impressed. But they were attracted to mal abode in Green Arbor Court, and took re- gether by strong sympathies, and difference of spectable apartments in Wine Office Court, Fleet temper served, as it has done in many other
instances, to attach them more closely to each It was here, on the 31st of May, 1761, he re- other. ceived his first visit from Dr. Samuel Johnson. Goldsmith had long felt the want of a monitor The commencement of their acquaintance was and guide. His yielding, gentle nature needed most characteristic. Goldsmith had invited a support, and in his weakness he felt that it was large party to a literary supper, and he requested good for him to lean in confidence and reliance on Dr. Percy, as a mutual friend, to bring Johnson the strong-minded Englishman. A memorable with him to the repast. On calling for the great scene occurred one morning at Wine Office Court, literary potentate, Dr. Percy was surprised at his which forcibly illustrates the characters and posiextraordinary smartness, and could not help in- tion of the two men. The story is well known, quiring the reason of his paying such unwonted and has been made the subject of a graphic paintregard to his personal appearance. Why, sir," ing by a modern artist. We cannot do better replied Johnson, “I hear that Goldsmith, who is than give it in Dr. Johnson's own words. “I a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of received one morning," he says, “ a message from cleanliness and decency by quoting my practice, poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, and I am desirous this night to show him a better as it was not in his power to come to me, begging example.”
that I would come to him as soon as possible. I It is almost impossible to avoid making a com- sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him parison between the literary career of Goldsmith directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was and Johnson ;-and by the eloquent pen of Wash- dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested ington Irving that comparison has been adu:irably him for rent, at which he was in a violent pas drawn. “Both had struggled from early life sion; I perceived that he had already changed with poverty,” says the American biographer, my guinea, and had a bottle of Madeira and a. “but had struggled in different ways. Goldsmith, glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, buoyant, heedless, sanguine, tolerant of evils, and desired he would be calm, and began to talk to easily pleased, had shifted along by any temporary him of the means by which he might be extriexpedient; cast down at every turn, but rising cated. He then told me he had a novel ready for again with indomitable good humor, and still the press, which he produced to me. I looked carried forward by his talent at hoping. Johnson, into it and saw its merit; told the landlady I, melancholy and hypochondriacal, and prone to ap- should soon return ; and, having gone to a book-, prehend the worst, yet sternly resolute to battle seller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldwith and conquer it, had made his way doggedly smith the money, and he discharged his rent, not and gloomily, but with a noble spirit of self-reli- without rating his landlady in a high tone for ance, and a disregard of foreign aid.
*Jhaving used him so ill."
The novel was the “ Vicar of Wakefield,” and Apart from its moral teachings, the “ Vicar of the bookseller to whom it was sold was Mr. Wakefield” is also valued as the most delightful Francis Newbury. Strange to relate, the pur- picture of English domestic life in the language. chaser kept the manuscript by him more than a All the tendernesses, virtues, and endearments of year and a half before he ventured to publish it. home—its pure enjoyments and tranquil pleasures But the work was destined to an extensive and -are beautifully set forth. It is a picture that enduring popularity, of which the fortunate book- could only have been drawn by one who himself seller never dreamed. “It came out,” says deeply appreciated the ties of family affection. Washington Irving, “on the 27th of March, “And yet,” observes Washington Irving, “ how 1766 ; before the end of May a second edition contradictory it seems that this, one of the most was called for ; in three months more a third ; delightful pictures of home and homefelt happiness, and so it went on, widening in a popularity that should be drawn by a homeless man ; that the has never flagged. Rogers, the Nestor of British most amiable picture of domestic virtue, and all literature, whose refined purity of taste, and the endearments of the married state, should be exquisite mental organization, rendered him emi- drawn by a bachelor, who had been severed from nently calculated to appreciate a work of the domestic life almost from boyhood ; that one of kind, declared that of all the books, which, the most tender, touching, and affecting appeals through the fitful changes of three generations, he in behalf of female loveliness, should have been had seen rise and fall, the charm of the Vicar made by a man whose deficiencies in all the of Wakefield' had alone continued as at first; graces of person and manner seemed to mark him and could he revisit the world after an interval of out for a cynical disparager of the sex.” many more generations, he should as surely look Before the “ Vicar of Wakefield,” however,
to find it undiminished.” We shall not attempt had made its appearance, Goldsmith established ! 'to inquire into the secret of this wonderful popu- his reputation as a poet by the publication of the Ilarity. It is enough to say, that the work has “ Traveller.” With many misgivings, on the
been a blessed instrument in disseminating prin- part of its author, this charming poem was ciples of mercy, tolerance, and kindness. The ushered into the world, and its success was most loving disposition and winning gentleness of spirit triumphant. Goldsmith now felt that he was which characterized its author shine forth in every rising in the world, and “accordingly,” says page. “Simple to very baldness," says Mr. Washington Irving, “emerged from Wine Office Forster, “ are the materials employed. But Gold- Court, and took chambers in the Temple." It is smith threw into the midst of them his own true they were but of humble pretensions, situated nature ; his actual experience; the suffering, dis- on what was then the library staircase, and it cipline, and sweet emotion of his own chequered would appear that he was a kind of inmate with life; and so made them a lesson and delight to Jeffs, the butler of the society. Still he was in all men.” Who will not recognize, in the com- the Temple, that classic region rendered famous mon qualities of mind attributed to the pastor's by the Spectator and other essayists, as the abode family, the leading peculiarities of the gifted of gay wits and thoughtful men of letters ; and writer? “In short," he says, at the conclusion which, with its retired courts and embowered of the first chapter, a family likeness prevailed gardens, in the very heart of a noisy metropolis, through all ; and, properly speaking, they had but is, to the quiet-seeking student and author, an one character, that of being all equally generous, oasis freshening with verdure in the midst of a credulous, simple, and inoffensive.” The scope desert. Johnson, who had become a sort of and objects of the tale have been eloquently growling supervisor of the poet's affairs, paid him summed up by Mr. Forster, in a few terse and a visit soon after he had installed himself in his expressive sentences, which we transfer with new quarters, and went prying about the apartpleasure to our pages. “Good predominant over ment, in his near-sighted manner, examining evil is briefly the purpose and moral of the little everything minutely. Goldsmith was fidgeted by story. It is designed to show us that patience in this curious scrutiny, and apprehending a disposisuffering, that persevering reliance on the provi- tion to find fault, exclaimed, with the air of a dence of God, that quiet labor, cheerful endeavor, man who had money in both pockets, “ I shall
and an indulgent forgiveness of the faults and in- soon be in better chambers than these." The • firmities of others, are the easy and certain means harmless bravado drew a reply from Johnson
of pleasure in this world, and of turning pain to which touched the chord of proper pride. “Nay, noble uses. It is designed to show us that the sir,” said he, “never mind that. Nil te quasiheroism and self-denial needed for the duties of veris extra,”-implying that his reputation renlife, are not of the superhuman sort; that they dered him independent of outward show. To may coëxist with many follies, with some simple this anecdote of Johnson and Goldsmith we must weaknesses, with many harmless vanities; and that, add another equally characteristic of the two men. in the improvement of mankind, near and remote, At the Literary Club, of which both were memin its progress through worldly content to final bers, the merits of the “ Traveller” were warmly happiness, the humblest of men have their places discussed-many of the members could scarcely assigned them, and their parts allotted them to believe that a man like Goldsmith could have
written such a poem. Some of them suspected