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tresses enticed him into promises and profes- 1 smiling good humor with which he has told sions which, though meant at the moment, most poignant truths; and the dexterity with were quickly forgotten." which he has blended praise and blame. The characters are drawn with uncommon terseness and force, and with such felicity of language that many of the lines have become proverbial.
In the midst of these shifts and sorrows a trivial incident occurred which produced one of the happiest effusions of Goldsmith's pen, and afforded a fresh proof of the versatility of his talents. He insisted one evening at the Literary Club on competing with Garrick in epigram, and each agreed to write the other's epitaph. The actor exclaimed on the instant that his was ready, and he produced extempore the couplet which is as widely known as the name of Goldsmith himself::
A few weeks after this game of epitaphs had been played out poor Goldsmith was in his grave. He was subject to strangury, produced or aggravated by fits of sedentary toil; and an attack of the disorder in March, 1774, passed into a nervous fever. On the 25th of the month he sent for an apothecary, and in defiance of his remonstrance persisted in taking James's powder. Yet, much as the medicine reduced his powers, the worst symptoms of the disorder abated, and it was appaAbashed at the laugh which ensued, "poor rent that the sleeplessness which remained was Poll" was unable to produce a retort. The induced by some other cause. "Your pulse," company pursued the idea which had been said Doctor Turton, "is in much greater disstarted, and either then or afterwards several order than it should be from the degree of of them wrote epitaphs upon their standing fever which you have. Is your mind at ease?" butt in a similar vein. Goldsmith in the "No," said Goldsmith, "it is not." He was interim was not idle. He was carefully pre-paying, in fact, with his life the penalty of paring his "Retaliation" in silence; and his improvidence. He expired, after an illwhen he had advanced as far as the character ness of ten days, on the 4th of April, 1774; of Reynolds he showed it to Burke. He and on the 9th, his remains, followed by a wished it to be a secret till it was finished; few coffeehouse acquaintances, hastily gabut having allowed copies to be taken, its thered together, were laid in the burial ground existence became known to those who were of the Temple. "He died," wrote Johnson, the subjects of it, and he was obliged to read" of a fever, exasperated, as I believe, by the fear of distress. He had raised money and squandered it by every artifice of acquisition and folly of expense. Sir Joshua is of opinion that he owed not less than two thousand pounds. Was ever poet so trusted before? But let not his faults be remembered. He was a very great man." It was suggested that he should be buried in Westminster Abbey, with a pomp commensurate with his fame; and Judge Day conjectured that the proposal was abandoned in consequence of his debts; but Mr. Cooke expressly states that the reason why the scheme was given up was because the greater part of the eminent persons who were invited to hold the pall, and whose presence could alone have conferred importance on the proceeding, pleaded inability to attend. Yet two at least of the number had a real and deep regard for the man. Burke, when he heard of his death, burst into tears; and Reynolds, who had never been known to suspend the exercise of his calling for any distress, laid down his brush, and painted no more that day.
it at the Literary Club in its imperfect state. Garrick mentions that the skirmish on the part of all concerned was conceived and executed in perfect good temper; but we learn from Mr. Cooke that Goldsmith intended that the sting should be felt. From the time that his talent for satire was discovered he was treated with greater respect, and the oddities which had hitherto been a theme for endless jest were spoken of as not entirely destitute of humor. Oliver marked the change, felt his power, and told a friend that he kept the poem as a rod in pickle upon any future occasion." The premature disclosure of his verses took away the stimulus which he derived from anticipating the effect they would produce upon his bantering friends, and seems to have prevented his proceeding any further in a composition which certainly cost him much thought and pains. As far as we can recollect, nothing of the kind had ever been struck out before. His little rhyming piece of pleasantry, "The Haunch of Venison," which he sent to Lord Clare about 1771, is in the same easy strain of verse; but the peculiarity of "Retaliation" is in the happy mixture of gaiety and satire; in the air of
Goldsmith was short and thick in stature, his face round and strongly pitted with the smallpox, his forehead low, and his complex
Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness call'd Noll,
according to Boswell, was coarse and vulgar; and Miss Reynolds states that he had the appearance of a low mechanic. He was once relating, with great indignation, that a gentleman in a coffeehouse had mistaken him for a tailor; and his resemblance to the brethren of the needle was notoriously so strong that an irresistible titter went round the circle. One morning when Mr. Percival Stockdale, was remarking to Davies the bookseller on this similarity of appearance, Goldsmith entered, and, with that curious infelicity which seemed always to attend upon him, said. to Mr. Stockdale, who had recently published a translation of Tasso's Aminta, "I shall soon take measure of you." His picture by Sir Joshua presents the face of a man unusually plain, yet Miss Reynolds mentions it as the crowning feat of her brother in portrait-painting that he had imparted dignity of expression without destroying the likeness. What that lady thought of him appears from her naming him for her toast when she was asked to give the ugliest person she knew; and Mrs. Cholmondeley, with whom she had some little difference at the time, was so delighted with the selection that she shook hands with her across the table. "Thus the ancients," said Johnson, "in the making up of their quarrels, used to sacrifice a beast between them."
ion pale. The general cast of his countenance, | sition, it was not from a single example, but from an intimate acquaintance of seven years, that Cooke derived his impression. Dr. Beattie said that the silliness he exhibited was so great that it almost seemed affected; and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who had a peculiar regard for him, adopted the same improbable theory. Chamier, after talking with him, came away, saying, "Well, I do believe he wrote the Traveller himself; and let me tell you that is believing a great deal." Against Horace Walpole's smart saying, that he was an "inspired idiot," Mrs. Piozzi wrote in her old age," very true;"* and the point, we may add, of Garrick's epigram would have had no sort of force unless it had possessed a semblance of truth. It is easy to collect from the book of Boswell, who acknowledges that his folly had been greatly exaggerated, the real state of the case. Johnson, who did the amplest justice to his genius, remarked that he had no settled notions upon any subject; that his ready knowledge was very slight; that he was eager to shine; and discoursed at random upon ques tions of which he was almost entirely ignorant. "If he were with two founders," said the Doctor, "he would fall a-talking on the method of making cannon, though both of them would soon see that he did not know what metal a cannon is made of." To this want of fixed opinions and extensive information was added what Boswell calls "a hurry of ideas, producing a laughable confusion in the expressing them;" and what Mr. Cooke terms "a strange, uncouth, deranged manner" of speaking. With his slender store of facts, his inability to arrange his thoughts on a sudden, his hasty rashness of assertion, his incoherent, provincial style of expression, it is manifest that he would do very slender justice to the better genius which he poured at leisure into his books. But a man of his talents must, in spite of the deficiency of tact and quickness, have often been visited with bright ideas; and Boswell relates that he was sometimes very happy in his wit-combats with Johnson, and records the instances of it. From the specimens which have been preserved of his absurdities it appears that they often consisted in the ludicrous misapplication of a single phrase. The story of his remarking to Lord Shelburne, "I never could conceive the reason why they call you
His address, until he warmed into the good-humor which was natural to him, strengthened the unfavorable impression produced by his appearance. "His deportment," says Boswell, "was that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman." "His manner," says Davies, "was uncouth, his language unpolished, and his elocution was continually interrupted by disagreeable hesitation." "He expressed himself," says his friend Mr. Cooke, "upon common subjects with a plainness bordering upon rusticity, and often in words very ill chosen." Some attempts have been made in recent years to prove that his talk was not unworthy of his fame; but the witnesses to the contrary are so numerous, and there is such a general agreement in their testimony, that it is idle to controvert it. Mr. Rogers asked Mr. Cooke what he really was in conversation, and Cooke replied, emphatically, "He was a fool. The right word never came to him. If you gave him back a shilling, he'd say, Why, it's as good a shilling as ever was born.' He was a fool, sir." Mr. Forster observes in extenuation, that "born" is an Irish mode of speech; but though the particular instance may not support the propo
Malone, on the other hand, says that he never could assent to Walpole's pointed sentence. always," he says, "made battle against Boswell's representation of him, and often expressed to him my opinion that he rated Goldsmith much too low."
Malagrida; for Malagrida was a very good more piquant, the insolence of Graham, who sort of a man," was, as Johnson justly re- wrote the "Masque of Telemachus." When marked, little more than an error of empha- he had arrived at the point of conviviality to sis. Horace Walpole, "whose authority, talk to one man and look at another, he said, however, is worth nothing on the question, "Doctor, I shall be happy to see you at exclaimed that the blunder was a picture of Eton," where he was one of the masters. his whole life. Beauclerk called it, ironically, "I shall be glad to wait on you," said Gold"a happy turn of expression, peculiar to.him- smith. "No," replied Graham, "'tis not self;" and the daughter of his friend Lord you I mean, Dr. Minor, 'tis Dr. Major, Clare, who always spoke of him with the ut- there." "Graham," said Oliver, describing most affection, used to say, that it was so him afterwards, "is a fellow to make one like him." His delight at the pun which commit suicide." Another circumstance was made on the dish of yellow-looking peas which he used to mention with strong indigat Sir Joshua's table, when one of the com- nation was the conduct of Moser, the Swiss, pany observed that they ought to be sent to at an Academy dinner, who cut short his Hammersmith, for that was the way to Turn conversation with a "Stay, stay, Toctor Shon'em Green; his taking the earliest opportu- son is going to say something." On such nity to repeat the jest as his own, his first occasions, Johnson tells us, he was as irasciexclaiming that that was the way to make ble as a hornet; was angry when he was 'em green, and next, when he found his witti- detected in an absurdity; and miserably cism fall pointless, that that was the road to vexed when he was defeated in an argument. turn 'em green; his starting up, disconcerted Of the little ebullitions of temper which arose at the second failure, and quitting the dinner- from mortified vanity, Boswell has preserved table abruptly, all reads like a humorous a single instance. He was about to interinvention to caricature his failings. In con- pose an observation in a discussion which firmation of his disposition to retire when he was going on, and his sentence was drowned was mortified, Hawkins states that he would by the loud voice of Johnson, who had not leave a tavern if his jokes were not rewarded heard him speak. Dr. Minor, who was standby a roar. Once in particular, having pro- ing restless, in consequence of being excluded mised the company, if they would call for from the conversation, hesitating whether to another bottle, that they should hear one of go or to stay, threw down his hat in a passion, his bon mots, he proceeded to tell, that, on and, looking angrily at Dr. Major, ejaculated, hearing that Sheridan practised stage-ges-"Take it!" Toplady beginning to say sometures in a room with ten mirrors, he replied thing, and Johnson making a sound, Gold"that then there were ten ugly fellows toge- smith called out, "Sir, the gentleman has ther." His anecdote was received in silence; heard you patiently for an hour; pray allow and after inquiring, to no purpose, "Why us now to hear him." Sir," rejoined Johnnobody laughed?" he departed in anger. son, "I was not interrupting the gentleman. "Rochester," says Mr. Forster, "observed I was only giving him a signal of my attenof Shadwell, that if he had burnt all he tion. Sir, you are impertinent." When wrote, and printed all he spoke, he would they met in the evening at the club, Johnson have had more wit and humor than any asked his pardon, and Goldsmith, who was other poet; and measuring Goldsmith by as placable as he was hasty, placidly replied, Shadwell, we may rest perfectly satisfied "It must be much, sir, that I take ill from with the relative accomplishments and defi- you." ciencies of each."
Boswell asserts that he studiously copied Johnson's manner, on a smaller scale; and both Hawkins and Joseph Warton relate that he affected to use the great lexicographer's hard words in conversation. The consequent impression he left Warton was, upon "that he was of all solemn coxcombs the first; yet," he adds, "sensible." To be solemn was not natural to him; and it is evident that he often forgot to act his part, or deliberately laid it aside. This mimicry of Johnson which reduced him to a comic miniature of the original, no doubt occasioned, as it renders
Of his vanity he gave many ludicrous examples. "He would never," said Garrick, "allow a superior in any art, from writing poetry down to dancing a hornpipe." "How well this postboy drives," said Johnson to Boswell. "Now, if Goldy were here, he'd say he could drive better." 'If you were to meet him," said a journalist of the day, who was satirizing his well-known infirmity, "and boast of your shoes being well blacked, the Doctor would look down at his own and reply, 'I think mine are still better done."" In trying to show at Versailles how well he could jump over a piece of water, he tumbled
into the midst of it: at the exhibition of puppets he warmly exclaimed, on their dexterously tossing a pike, "Pshaw! I can do it better myself." And he broke his shins the same evening, at the house of Mr. Burke, in the attempt to prove that he could surpass them in leaping over a stick. When some of their club were loud in their praise of a speech of Mr. Burke, Goldsmith maintained that oratory was a knack, and that he would undertake to do as well himself. Being dared to the trial, he mounted a chair and was unable to advance beyond one or two sentences. He was compelled to desist, but reiterated his assertion, and imputed his failure to his being "out of luck" at the moment. He possessed so little of the boasted knack, that when he attempted a speech at the Society of Arts he was obliged to sit down in confusion.
His vanity was coupled with a babbling envy that was laughable, but not malignant. "Though the type," says Cooke, "of his 'Good-natured Man' in every other respect, yet, in the point of authorship, and particularly in poetry, he could bear no rival near his throne. This was so deeply rooted in his nature, that nothing could cure it. Poverty had no terrors for him; but the applauses paid another poet made him poor indeed." He could not bear, Dr. Beattie said, that so much admiration should be bestowed upon Shakespeare; and though he had a true and hearty regard for Johnson, he exclaimed in a kind of agony, on hearing him vehemently applauded, "No more, I desire you; you harrow up my soul."
Genius is jealous: I have heard of some
Mr. Forster expresses his regret that Crabbe should have invented an illustration of Goldsmith's vanity opposed to all the known records of his intercourse with Reynolds; but the author of the "Tales," who had lived with many of Oliver's associates, plainly meant to give real instances; and, as we see from the case of Johnson, love for the man did not exclude jealousy of the panegyrics bestowed upon the genius. The work of Crabbe in which the lines occur was dedicated to the Duchess of Rutland, and the second example was doubtless from her
self or her family. Another ludicrous manifestation of his jealousy occurred at an Academy dinner: when one of the company was uttering some witticisms which excited mirth, Goldsmith begged those who sat near him not to laugh, "for in truth he thought it would make the man vain." He openly confessed that he was of an envious disposition; and Boswell maintained that he had no more of it than other people, but only talked of it more freely. All are agreed that it never embittered his heart; that it entirely spent itself in occasional outbreaks; and that he was utterly incapable of a steady rancor, or of doing an action which could hurt any man living. He once proposed to muster a party to damn Home's play "The Fatal Discovery," alleging for his reason "that such fellows ought not to be encouraged;" but this, says Davies, was "a transient thought, which, upon the least check, he would have immediately renounced, and as heartily joined to support the piece he had before devoted to destruction." Such were the foibles which shaded the higher qualities of this whimsical being, and which must find the readier belief that most of those who record his eccentricities appear to have felt kindly towards him, and could certainly not have conspired to fasten upon him a fictitious character which was so little in keeping with his genius.
Washington Irving expresses his belief that far from being displeased that his weaknesses should be remembered, he would be gratified to hear the reader shut the volume which contained his history with the ejaculation POOR GOLDSMITH! In our opinion nothing would be more distasteful to him. He had higher aspirations, a more heroic ambition. But what would have delighted him would have been to hear Johnson pronounce in oracular tones that "he deserved a place in Westminister Abbey, and every year he lived would have deserved it better;" to read in the epitaph which his great friend prepared for his monument, "that he was of a genius sublime, lively and versatile, that there was no species of writing that he had left untried, and that he treated nothing which he did not adorn;" to find posterity confirming the sentence and ranking him as the worthy peer of the illustrious men whose fame he emulated, and whom he needlessly envied; to see that his works were among the most popular of British classics, that everything connected with him possessed an undying interest for mankind, that all the minutest incidents of his career had engaged the anxious researches of numerous biographers, and that the list
was closed by the elaborate volumes of Mr. Forster. Tread lightly on his ashes, ye men of genius, for he was your kinsman; weed his grave clean, ye men of goodness, for he was your brother."
In adding one more to the many sketches of Goldsmith's life we have not done justice to the very able and interesting Biography from which we have drawn our materials. His history is there illustrated with a fulness which may even be thought excessive, for the era in which his lot was cast, and the eminent men with whom he associated in his later years, are largely described in conjunction with himself. In intrinsic interest these episodes are inferior to no other portion of the book, and the very notes are a storehouse of wit and wisdom culled from the writings and sayings of the contemporaries of Goldsmith. The central figure of the piece is drawn with equal ability and truth, and with no more extenuation of his infirmities than is due to the frailties of a common humanity. But Mr. Forster had a wider object than the mere exhibition of the life and adventures of an individual. He wished through the example of Goldsmith to plead the cause of literature with the world, and we are anxious to give currency to the concluding pages in which he sums up the scope and moral of his admirable work :
gratitude. . . . The best offices of service to a state are those in which thinkers are required, and, more than many of its lawyers, more than all class of men of letters and science are competent its soldiers, it is in such offices that the higher to assist. Yet, if any one would measure the weight of contempt and neglect that now presses down such service, let him compare the deeds for which an English parliament ordinarily bestows its thanks, its peerages, and its pensions, with the highest grade of honor or reward that it has ever vouchsafed to the loftiest genius, the highest distinction in literature, the greatest moral or mechanical achievement, by which not simply England has been benefited and exalted, but the whole huPartly because of the sordid ills that attended authorship in such days as have been described in these volumes, partly from the fact that it is a calling daily entered by men whom neither natural gifts nor laborious acquirements entitle to success in it, the belief is still very common that to be an author is to be a kind of vagrant, picking up subsistence as he can, a loaf to-day, a crumb to-morrow, and that to such a man no special signification of respect in social life can possibly be paid. Nor, in marking thus the low account and general disesteem of their calling, are the literary class themselves to be exsmith, on one occassion, with bitter truth, “if empted from blame. "It were well," said Goldnone but the dunces of society were combined to render the profession of an author ridiculous or unhappy." The profession themselves have yet to learn the secret of co-operation; they have to put away internal jealousies; they have to claim for themselves, as poor Goldsmith after his fashion very loudly did, that defined position from which greater respect, and more frequent consideration in public life, could not long be withheld; in fine, they have frankly to feel that their vocation, properly regarded, ranks with the worthiest, and that on all occasions to do justice to it, and to each other, is the way to obtain justice from the world. If writers had been thus true to themselves, the subject of copyright might have been equitably settled when attention was first drawn to it, but, while De Foe was urging the author's claim, Swift was calling De Foe a fellow that had been pilloried, and we have still to discuss as in formâ pauperis the rights of the English author. Confiscation is a hard word, but it is the word which alone describes fairly the statute of Anne, for the encouragement of literature. That is now, superseded by another statute, having the same gorgeous name, and the same inglorious meaning: for even this last enactment, sorely resisted as it was, leaves England behind every other country in the world, in the amount of their own property secured to her authors. In some, to this day, perpetual copyright exists; and though it may be reasonable, as Doctor Johnson argued that it was, to surrender a part for greater efficiency of protection to the rest, yet the commonest dictates of natural justice might at least require that an author's family should not be beggared of their inheritance as soon as his own capacity to provide for them may have ceased. In every continental country this is
This book has been written to little purpose, if the attention can be attributed to it of claiming for the literary man either more money than is proportioned to the work he does by the appreciation it commands, or immunity from those conditions of prudence, industry and a knowledge of the multiplication table, which are inseparable from success in all other walks of life. But, with a design far other than that, one object of it has been to show that the very character of the writer's calling, by the thoughts which he creates by the emotions he is able to inspire, by the happiness he may extend to distant generations, so far places him on a different level from the tradesman, merchant, lawyer, or physician, who has his wares and merchandise or advice to sell, that, whereas in the latter case the service is as indefinite as the reward due to it, in the former a balance must be always left, which only time can adjust fairly. In the vast majority of cases, too, even the attempt at adjustment is not made until the tuneful tongue is silent, and the ear deaf to praise; nor, much as the extension of the public of readers has done to diminish the probabilities of a writer's suffering, are the chances of his lot bettered even yet, in regard to that fair and full reward. Another object of this book has therefore been to point out that literature ought long ago to have received from the state an amount of recognition which would at least have placed its highest cultivators on a level with other and not worthier recipients of its