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MR. CUNNINGHAM, whose scrupulous exact- | nity for forming a thorough acquaintance with ness is generally known, has furnished the both than has been afforded us before. first complete and accurate reprint of the There was an anomaly in Goldsmith’s chamiscellaneous writings of Oliver Goldsmith. racter which has existed in no other celeNumerous errors wbich had crept into previ- brated personage in an equal degree. An ous editions are corrected, omitted passages Irishman by birth, he had most of the virtues are restored, and entire pieces have been and not a few of the failings which distinadded. By a fortunate coincidence Mr. Fors- guish many of his nation—their love of low ter at the same moment has reproduced,
with festivities, their blundering, their gullibility, great additions, bis well-known" Life of Gold- their boastfulness, their vanity, their improvismith,” in which he has collected, from an dence, and, above all, their hospitality and infinity of sources, every particular which benevolence. But with this Hibernian dispocould'illustrate the career of his hero, and by sition be was an author after the purest and his acute and genial comments, has assigned soberest models—chaste in his style and lanto the mass of disjointed facts their true sig. guage, and calm and rational in his opinions. nificance. Much as has been written upon Those who lived with him found it hard to the man, and often as his works have been believe that one so weak in his conduct and republished, we have now a better opportu- conversation could display much power in his
writings, and, as we learn from Dr. Johnson,
“it was with difficulty that his friends could * The Life and Times of Oliver Goldsmith. By give him a hearing.” Posterity, on the other John FORSTER, of the Inner Temple, Barrister-atLaw. Second Edition. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1854. hand, who reverse the process and judge him
The Works of Oliver Goldsmith. Edited by Pe- from his books, have been reluctant to acter Cunningham. 4 vols. 8vo. London, 1854. knowledge that the man “who wrote like an
+ The new edition of the works of Goldsmith angel could have talked like poor Poll;" and forms part of a series of the British Classics, which there has been a tendency of late years to is undoubtedly the best selected and edited, the cheapest, and the handsomest that has ever issued accuse his contemporaries of combining to
exaggerate his absurdities. But whatever be VOL. XXXIV.-NO. I.
from the press.
the explanation of the contradiction, there is accounts, he was rejected for appearing in abundant evidence that it was real. His scarlet breeches. The story was probably a works remain to speak for themselves: and jocose invention suggested by his love of the account of his foibles comes to us from gaudy clothes, and the only intelligible explasuch a variety of quarters, that to deny the nation of the transaction, as Mr. Forster likeness would be to undermine the founda- remarks, is that his knowledge was found tions of biography itself. Even if traits ori- deficient. Instead of preparing for his exaginally ludicrous were made broader in the mination he had employed his two years in repetition, the general temptation to indulge country rambles, in playing whist and the in a caricature of his weaknesses is itself
a flute, and in telling stories and singing songs proof that the qualities existed in excess. at a club which met at the Ballymahon pubThis distinct recognition by Mr. Forster of the lic-house. His own predilections had never blended nature of Goldsmith, of the Irish been in favor of the clerical profession, and temperament which he derived from his pa- he made no further efforts to enter the church. rents, his training, and his early associates, Mr. Contarine, a clergyman who had married and of the taste in composition which he the sister of Oliver's father, now procured derived from the study of books, has dissi- him the situation of tutor in the house of a pated the doubts and difficulties which recent Mr. Flinn. Here he remained a twelvemonth, discussions were beginning to raise about one when he taxed one of the family with cheatof the most strongly marked and transpa- ing at cards and lost his office. He went back rent characters that ever existed in the world. to Ballymahon with thirty pounds and a On the
appearance in 1837 of Mr. Prior's horse, started afresh in a few days, and reLife of Goldsmith, we related in detail the appeared at the end of six weeks with a worse earlier, and at that time the least known, part horse and no money. His mother being very of his career. * The son of a poor clergyman angry, he wrote a letter to pacify her, in which he was sent at seventeen to Dublin University, he professed to have gone to Cork, to have and for cheapness was compelled to enter as paid his passage in a ship wbich was bound a sizar. If poverty is the stimulus to indus- to America, and to have been left behiod by try, industry is equally the solace of poverty. an unscrupulous captain who“ never inquired Study furnishes the mind with occupation, after me, but set sail with as much indifferand removes the necessity for costlier and less ence as if I had been on baard.” A train of worthy entertainment; but idleness aggra- adventures followed, the whole of which bear vates penury, and is the parent of low diver- evident 'marks of invention, and show how sions, lassitude, and debt. Such, from the early he began to display the talents which indications which remain to us, appears to produced the “Vicar of Wakefield.” The have been the college existence of Goldsmith. church and emigration had failed. It was Any chance of his being drawn into the stu- resolved to try law. With fifty pounds furdies of the place was destroyed by the brutal-nished by Mr. Contarine, he set out for Lonity of a tutor, who ridiculed his awkwardness don to keep his terms, gambled away his little and his ignorance, and who once knocked fund with an acquaintance at Dublin, and was him down for giving a humble dance at his once more thrown back penniless upon his rooms to celebrate the small but solitary friends. The law was given up; but after a honor of having gained an exhibition worth short interval they were hopeful enough to thirty shillings. After nearly four years passed think that medicine might be attended with at Dublin without pleasure, profit, or distinc better luck. The money was again supplied tion, he took his degree of bachelor of arts by Mr. Contarine, and this time the reckless the 27th February, 1749.
Oliver contrived to reach his destination, His father died while he was at college, though it was no less distant than Edinburgh. and his mother lived in reduced circumstances He arrived there in the autumn of 1752, when at a cottage in Ballymahon. He was urged he was twenty-four years of age. by his family to take orders, but, wanung It may be inferred from the previous and two years of the canonical age, he spent the subsequent proceedings of Oliver, that he was interval at his new home. When he at last neither very diligent nor very prudent at Edinpresented himself before the Bishop of El- burgh, but little
is known with certainty. He phin he was refused ordination. According remained there till the spring of 1754, when, to a tradition which rests upon indifferent led more by his love of roving than by his authority, and which is contradicted by other devotion to science, he resolved to visit the
“I shall carry, 'Quarterly Review," vol. lyii. p. 273. wrote to Mr. Contarine in announcing that he
had drawn upon him for twenty pounds, and board. As no Englishman of his time "just £33 to France, with good store of could have seen so much of the interior life clothes, shirts, &c., and that with ecouomy of the lower classes abroad, and been so intiwill serve." Economy he never practised. mately versed in their manners and feelings, Whatever pittance he possessed was usually it is surprising that among all his literary squandered, and when he lived frugally it was taskwork' he should never have given a narbecause he had exhausted his means. A letter rative of his continental adventures. It is from Leyden to Mr. Contarine, which de stated by Mr. Forster, that after he grew scribes the mishaps that attended his voyage into reputation the booksellers for whom be to Holland, whither he went instead of to worked were unwilling to have it known that France, is tinged, like the apologetical epistle the famous Dr. Goldsmith had been a mendito his mother, with palpable romance; and cant wanderer. 'If this was the cause of his siMr. Forster suggests, we have no doubt truly, lence, they judged very ill for their own interthat it may perhaps have been dictated by ests and very falsely of public opinion, and the the same motive-a desire to explain away world has lost a more charming book of traheedless expenditure which might soon com- vels tban has ever perhaps been penned. pel bim to tax anew the purse and patience The pedestrian tour of Goldsmith lasted of his friends. His generous uncle, however, exactly a year, and in February, 1756, he seems shortly afterwards to have sunk into landed at Dover. He had increased his knowchildishness, and his other relatives in Ireland ledge of men, manners, and countries, but he were deaf to bis appeals. At Leyden he man- had brought back little which could aid him aged to exist by borrowing and giving lessons in his profession, except a medical degree that in English. He frequented the gaming table, was supposed to have been procured at either and once brought away a considerable sum, Padua or Louvain, where the principal qualiwhich was lost almost as soon as won. When fication was the payment of the fees. He he took his departure in February 1755, he made his way to London, and his first employ. was obliged to a fellow student for the loan ment is believed to have been that of an which was to carry him on his way. Imme- usher in a provincial school. He soon rediately afterwards he passed the shop of a turned to the metropolis, and offered himself florist, saw some costly tulip-roots, which to apothecaries to dispense their medicines, . were things prized by Mr. Contarine, and, He had no other introduction than bis mein solely intent upon gratifying his uncle, bought and address, and it is not surprising that his them at once with the borrowed money. It ungainly figure, plain face, awkward manners, is these benevolent but ill-regulated impuises and shabby clothes should have failed to rewhich have endeared the memory of Gold- commend him. Such was the poverty of his smith to the world. In him the extravagance appearance that when he called shortly afterwhich ministers to gratitude and relieves wards in his best suit upon Dr. Sleigh, who wreichedness was still stronger than the im- had been his fellow-student at Edinburgh, providence which grew from self.indulgence. bis former associate was unable to recognize “He left Leyden next day,” says Mr. Forster, bim in his pitiful garb. His Irish birth “with a guinea in his pocket, one shirt to his increased the mistrust and stood much in bis back, and a flute in his band.”
way. One Jacob, a chemist, who lived near He took the course which he afterwards the Monument, at last ventured to try him, described in “The Traveller,” and trudged and it was while in his service that Oliver on foot through parts of Flanders, France, renewed his intercourse with Dr. Sleigh. Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. In later “When he did recollect me," says Goldsmith, days he used to tell his friends of the dis- “I found bis heart as warm as ever, and he tresses he underwent - of his sleeping in shared his purse and friendship with me durbarns, of his dependence at one time upon the charity of convents, and of his turning itinerant iute-player* at another to get bei pounced it to be correct, adding that if he had not
seen him do it he never could have believed his
friend capable of writing music after him." In con* He was an indifferent performer, and, if we tradiction to this, the author of an address to the were to credit the story related by Sir John Hawk- " Philological Society of London," published in ins, he was ignorant of his notes. Roubiliac, so runs May, 1787, and quoted by Mr. Forster, asserts that the tale, pretending to be charmed with one of Oli- a gentleman of his acquaintance had often laid ver's airs, begged to have it repeated that he might pieces of music before Goldsmith, who played them take it down. The sculptor jotted some random dots at sight. The anecdote of Hawkins is not in itself upon the paper, and showed it to Goldsmith, who, very probable, and may now be dismissed as apoafter looking it over with seeming attention, pro- | cryphal.
ing his continuance in London.” Through | solemn central figure of the group, was espethe agency of Sleigh and Jacob he commenced cially provoked by the diverting originalities practising in Southwark, and, in the language which distinguished Goldsmith from the rest of Mr. Forster, became “poor physician to of mankind. The oddity of language to which
Yet even in this lowly sphere he he alludes in The Bee was his Hibernian was mindful of dress, and while with one dialect, and it was remarked by his friend hand he felt the pulse of his patient, with the Mr. Cooke that to the close of his life he was other he held his hat upon his breast to con- careful to retain it in all its original force. ceal a patch upon his coat. Either he failed A curious instance of his ignorance of Engto get practise, or those who employed him lish pronunciation occurs in one of his early were too needy to pay, and he abandoned reviews, in which he takes a poet to task for physic to become corrector of the press to the making key rhyme with be. He had then no famous Samuel Richardson. A printer whom idea that it had any other sound than his he attended, and who worked for Richardson, native Irish kay. is said to have suggested the notion and in- The tricks which the pupils played off troduced him to the novelist. This contact upon Oliver he retaliated on the footman, with literature did not assist to make appa- who was weak in intellect and ludicrously rent the latent qualities of his genius. The vain. As be prided himself upon his eating author of “Clarissa” was too much taken up and drinking feats, Goldsmith rolled some with his own importance to have a chance of white cheese into the shape of a candle-end, detecting in his humble assistant the powers and inserting a bit of blackened paper which were to produce the “ Vicar of Wake- wick he placed it by the remnant of a true field.”
tallow-dip. “You eat that piece of candle," In these several occupations the year was he said to the footman, " and I will eat this.” passed. The early part of 1757 found him Goldsmith set the example, and with a wry usher at the Academy of Dr. Milner of Peck- face ate up his cheese by mouthfuls. When ham, whose son was another of the fellow he had nearly done, the footman swallowed students of Goldsmith at Edinburgh. He bis own piece of candle at a desperate gulp,
secure from want; but to judge and began to triumph over the protracted from the descriptions he has left of the nausea of bis antagonist. Why truly, calling in his writings, it was of all his shifts William,” replied Goldsmith, “my bit of the most painful and degrading. “The candle was no other than a bit of very
nice usher,” he wrote in The Bee, “is generally Cheshire cheese, and therefore, William, I was the laughing-stock of the school. Every trick unwilling to lose the relish of it.” After pracis played upon him; the oddity of his tical jokes like these from a man of twentymanners, his dress, or his language, is a fund nine, it was an inevitable consequence that of eternal ridicule; the master himself now usber Oliver and footman William should be and then cannot avoid joining in the laugh, treated by the boys with about equal respect. and the poor wretch, eternally resenting this But the old halo of benevolence which surill usage, lives in a state of war with all the rounds him everywhere shines out here, and family" Mr. Forster, who quotes this pas- this salary was usually spent, the very day it sage, also quotes from the reminiscences of was paid, in charity to beggars and gifts to the Mr. Cooke, a barrister, who was intimate smaller boys. You had better, Mr. Goldwith Goldsmith during the latter part of his smith,” said Mrs. Milner at last,“ let me keep life, the still more significant fact that, though your money for you, as I do for some of the he was accustomed to relate the hardships of young gentlemen.” “In truth, madam,” his obscurer days, he never alluded to the he replied, " there is equal need." Peckham Academy. The neglects and insults It was while he was at Peckham that the shown to his poverty were due to his circum- circumstance occurred which brought him stances, but the taunts of his pupils were a into connection with his real vocation. Dr. deeper wound to his sensitive nature, because Milner was a contributor to the “ Monthly they were directed against the man. The Review," and Griffiths, the proprietor, when sketch of the usher he has drawn in The dining at his table, was so far impressed by Bee is a palpable self-portrait, and it is a the conversation of Goldsmith, that he asked mark of his simplicity that he has genera- him to furnish a few specimens of criticism. lised traits which were peculiar to himself. The result was his removal from the estabThe office was doubtless often treated with lishment of Dr. Milner to that of Mr. Griffiths. disrespect, but the laugh which went round He was to lodge and board with the bookthe juvenile circle, and extended itself to the seller, to receive a small salary, and to labor
every day from nine till two upon the thrown upon the town, sleeping in a garret “ Monthly Review.” He entered upon his and dating bis letters from the Temple Exnew functions at the end of April, 1757, change coffee-house, near Temple Bar. He having engaged himself for a twelvemonth, was tracked to his lodgings by his brother and we are inclined to adopt a more cheering Charles, who, hearing a rumor that Oliver view of the contract than has been taken by was up in the world, had decamped secretly Mr. Forster. Goldsmith declared that it was from Ireland to partake of this unwonted not till a year or two later that he discovered Goldsmith prosperity. The poor author made his talents for literature. He had, indeed, light of his situation, and said that the Camsent his brother Henry, in a letter from paign of Addison was written in a garret abroad, the first brief draught of “The higher than his own; but Charles saw that Traveller," but it drew forth no praise from he must seek for another patron, and was the family circle, and did not add to their soon on his way to Jamaica. In a letter hopes of the scapegrace Oliver. He had which Goldsmith wrote in December to his again, in the January of the present year, brother-in-law, Mr. Hodson, he speaks of according to the statement of Dr. Farr, himself as making shift to live by very little called upon him to read the commencement practice as a physician, and very little repuof a tragedy, upon which he had previously tation as a poet. None of the poetry has taken the opinion of Richardson, but he ap- been recovered, if indeed it ever existed, for pears to have received no encouragement to his accounts of himself are not to be trusted. proceed, nor is there the slightest trace, since The only literary work which has been he sold ballads when at college for five shil- traced to him at this period is a short article lings apiece to the street-singers of Dublin, in the “ Critical Review” for November, 1757, that in any of his distresses he ever dreamt and a translation from the French, entitled of eking out his subsistence by his pen. To « The Memoirs of a Protestant condemned exchange the mechanical drudgery of hearing to the Galleys of France for his Religion,'' the Delectus and correcting the nonsense which was published in February, 1758. verses of little boys for the more intellectual Even existence in a garret could not be supdrudgery of writing for the press was, we ported upon the miserable proceeds of authorsuspect, considered by himself an elevation ship, and he was fain to return to the Peckat the moment. It was not Goldsmith con- ham Academy. He reäppeared in the school scious of his genius that had let himself out under what we should have supposed to to Griffiths by the year, but Goldsmith the have been happier auspices. The health of butt of acquaintances and the laughing-stock Dr. Milner was failing, and the head masterof schoolboys. In consequence, however, of ship devolved in great part upon the usher. the coarse, ungenerous nature of the particu. To the increased authority he derived from lar publisher who had secured his services, this circumstance was added the considera: the engagement proved unpropitious, and at tion, which in the worst days of literature the end of six months was dissolved in anger must always have been something, of having by mutual consent. The bookseller taxed his been thought competent to instruct the scribe with idleness and independence, and public through the press.
Yet his situation Goldsmith complained of the authoritative was still uneasy, and the hope which airs of Griffiths, of the domestic parsimony brightened his prospects was the promise of of his wife, and of the unwarrantable liberties Dr. Milner to procure him a medical appointof both in re-touching the articles he com- ment in India. He bid a final adieu to the posed for the review. These early produc-Peckham seminary in August, 1758, and tions have the graces of his style, though not shortly afterwards received the warrant in the bigbest degree. The substance is be which nominated him physician and surgeon low the form. The criticisms and observa- to one of the factories on the coast of Corotions are often commonplace, never novel or mandel. The salary was only a hundred aprofound, and his happiest ideas can scarcely year, but the private practice of the place, challenge any prouder designation than good which followed the official station, was an
With exquisite taste in his extra thousand. To raise money for the own compositions he never, strange to say, outfit, which he calculated would require attained to much insight into the merits and 1301., he had for some time been preparing defects of the writings of others. When bis in his leisure hours “An Enquiry into the judgments are not false, they show neither Present State of Polite Learning in Europe.” nicety of discrimination nor keenness of relish. He wrote to bis relatives and old companions
In the autumn of 1757 he was once more in Ireland to ask them to obtain subscriptions