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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 hie 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 himBut two years of was commonly and irreverently named, Paddy) self for his sacred functions. Byrne," an old soldier, and who was probably probation had to be passed before he was able to 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, "between two dismal periods of his life. He has escaped one scene of misery; another is awaiting him; and what possibilities of happiness lie in the interval it is his nature to seize and make the most of. He assists his brother Henry in the school; runs household errands for his mother; writes scraps of verses to please his uncle Contarine; and, to please himself, gets cousin Bryanton and Tony Lumpkins of the dis
A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well, and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper, circling round, Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned: Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was his fault. 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 Thus the two years Mr. Forster, was probably true. It is said that triumph indeed. 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 66 poor scholar," 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 at 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."
But when Goldsmith presented himself before the bishop of the diocese for ordination, his usual ill-luck attended him. Whether it was that the
nities. He had, besides, a savage brute for a tutor"-one Wilder-" a man of violent and *** who abused him in prescapricious temper 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—too 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. His 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 he took his bachelor's degree and his final leave of the University, and returned home to his friends. * Washington Irving.
* Goldsmith's most generous relative, who relieved him in all his early straits and difficulties, and who appears to have been the only one of his friends who had any real faith in him.
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, And dance forgetful of the noontide hour. with 507. But he spent the money in Dublin— some say he was stripped of it in a gaming-house On his arrival in England, Goldsmith appears --and after a few weeks, penniless, dejected, dis- to have, found himself 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 foot 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 half-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 sioned inconvenience." Having passed two win-late," and was the "laughing-stock of the boys." ters at Edinburgh, Goldsmith made up his mind to finish his medical education on the continent. After some of his usual mishaps, he made his way to Leyden, (his good-natured uncle, Contarine, providing the funds,) where he remained about a year; and attended the lectures of Gaubius on Chemistry, and Albinus on Anatomy. From Leyden he is supposed to have set out on his famous continental tour, which he commenced in February, 1755,* furnished, it has been said, "with one spare shirt, a flute, and a single guinea."
up early and
He soon quitted this wretched vocation, and was houseless and penniless again. In his dismal poverty he was found out by an Edinburgh fellowstudent, who furnished him with funds to commence the practice of medicine, in a small way, among the poor in Bankside, Southwark. Among his patients was a journeyman printer, who worked for Mr. Samuel Richardson, the author of "Pamela," and then a flourishing publisher. The printer introduced him to his master, who offered him employment, and Goldsmith was enabled to make a fresh start as reader and corrector of the
We shall not attempt 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 meal. "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 better, 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 goodhumor, In truth, madam, there is equal need.' At the table of Dr. Milner, he frequently met with one Griffiths, the proprietor of the "Monthly Review." Griffiths, a shrewd, hard man of business, saw that Goldsmith was clever and very poor, that he was just the animal for hack authorship, and might be had cheap. He accordingly offered him a permanent engagement as a contrib
How often have I led thy sportive choir,
*The dates in Washington Irving's biography are frequently incorrect. A little more care in revising the work for the press would have prevented such blunders. + Washington Irving.
to pay visits on clean-shirt-days only, but on other occasions wisely keeping within doors. His next place of residence was "on the first floor of the house, No. 12, Green Arbor Court, between the Old Bailey, and what was lately Fleet Market.”*
ator to the Review, with board and lodging, and sively occupied. He tenanted at first a mean 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." five months. Even to poor spirit-broken Gold-He probably at this time adopted the notable smith it was too humiliating to be long endured. expedient of a poor countryman, in going abroad Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths both exerted the privilege of patching, altering, and (in their own eyes) amending his reviews. They kept him constantly at the desk, and when he tried to assume a spirit of independence, they accused him of being above 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-toil 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 to 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 rotted down 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, be 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 longer depended on the great for subsistence; they have now no other patrons but the public; and the public, collectively considered, is a good and generous master. It is indeed too frequently mistaken as to the merits of every candidate for favor, but to make amends it is never mistaken long." And again-" A life of independence is generally a life of virtue. It is that which fits the soul for every generous flight of humanity, freedom, and friendship. Serenity, health, and affluence, attend the desire of rising by labor; misery, repentance, and disrespect, that of succeeding by extorted benevolence. The man who can thank himself alone for the happiness he enjoys is truly blest; and lovely, far more lovely, the sturdy gloom of laborious indigence, than the fawning simper of thriving adulation.”
the coast of Coromandel; and the poet was suddenly dazzled with visions of Oriental splendor. But it appears that he failed to take the necessary steps to secure the magnificent prize, and it was transferred to another. Disappointed in his Indian scheme, he turned his attention to the navy, and probably, as Mr. Prior observes, “induced by the example of several acquaintances, and the remembrance of Grainger and Smollett, who, in the spirit of adventure, or for a more extensive observation of mankind, pursued a similar course in early life," he resolved to present himself to be examined at the College of Surgeons for the humble situation of an "hospital mate." His difficulty was to procure a decent suit of clothes for the occasion, and in this dilemma he applied to Griffiths, who, on being furnished with four articles for the "Monthly Review," undertook to become his security to a tailor. In the books of the College of Surgeons there is an entry which we quote without remark, for it is too expressive to require comment. "At a court of examiners
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 * James Bernard, mate to an hospital. Goldsmith found not qualified for ditto."
*Goldsmith's poverty was never accompanied by Oliver that guardian pride which kept Johnson from falling 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, whose never hoped, and therefore 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 memmy imprudence, but not with any remorse 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 Polite 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 tomal 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 other.
It was here, on the 31st of May, 1761, he received his first visit from Dr. Samuel Johnson. The commencement of their acquaintance was most characteristic. Goldsmith had invited a large party to a literary supper, and he requested Dr. Percy, as a mutual friend, to bring Johnson with him to the repast. On calling for the great literary potentate, Dr. Percy was surprised at his extraordinary smartness, and could not help inquiring the reason of his paying such unwonted regard to his personal appearance. "Why, sir," replied Johnson, "I hear that Goldsmith, who is a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of cleanliness and decency by quoting my practice, and I am desirous this night to show him a better example."
Goldsmith had long felt the want of a monitor and guide. His yielding, gentle nature needed support, and in his weakness he felt that it was good for him to lean in confidence and reliance on the strong-minded Englishman. A memorable scene occurred one morning at Wine Office Court, which forcibly illustrates the characters and position of the two men. The story is well known, and has been made the subject of a graphic painting by a modern artist. We cannot do better than give it in Dr. Johnson's own words. "I received one morning," he says, a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging 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 admirably |him for rent, at which he was in a violent pasdrawn. "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 bookprehend 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.
having 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 larity. 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 pleasure to our pages. "Good predominant over evil is briefly the purpose and moral of the little story. It is designed to show us that patience in suffering, that persevering reliance on the providence of God, that quiet labor, cheerful endeavor, and an indulgent forgiveness of the faults and infirmities of others, are the easy and certain means of pleasure in this world, and of turning pain to noble uses. It is designed to show us that the heroism and self-denial needed for the duties of life, are not of the superhuman sort; that they 1 may coexist with many follies, with some simple weaknesses, with many harmless vanities; and that, in the improvement of mankind, near and remote, in its progress through worldly content to final happiness, the humblest of men have their places assigned them, and their parts allotted them to play."
new quarters, and went prying about the apart-