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ing pompous letters to his uncle about the great Farheim, Du Petit, and Duhamel du Monceau, whose lectures he proposed to follow. If Uncle Contarine believed those letters; if Oliver's mother believed that story which the youth related, of his going to Cork with the purpose of embarking for America, of his having paid his passenger money and having sent his kit on board, of the anonymous captain sailing away with Oliver's valuable luggage in a nameless ship, never to return, if Uncle Contarine and the mother at Ballymahon believed his stories, they must have been a very simple pair, as it was a very simple rogue indeed who cheated them. When the lad, after failing in his clerical examinations, after failing in his plan for studying the law, took leave of these projects and of his parents and set out for Edinburgh, he saw mother and uncle, and lazy Ballymahon, and green native turf and sparkling river for the last time. He was never to look on Old Ireland more, and only in fancy revisit her.
“But me not destined such delights to share,
My prime of life in wandering spent and care,
I spoke in a former lecture of that high courage which enabled Fielding, in spite of disease, remorse, and poverty, always to retain a cheerful spirit and to keep his manly benevolence and love of truth intact, as if these treasures had been confided to him for the public benefit, and he was accountable to posterity for their honorable employ; and a constancy equally happy and admirable I think was shown by Goldsmith, whose sweet and friendly nature bloomed kindly always in the midst of a life's storm and rain and bitter weather. The poor fellow was never so friendless but he could befriend some one; never so pinched and wretched but he could give of his crust, and speak his word of compassion. If he had but his flute left, he could give that, and make the children happy in the dreary London court. He could give the coals in that queer coal-scuttle we read of to his neighbor; he could give away his blankets in college to the poor widow, and warm himself as he best might in the feathers; he could pawn his coat, to save his landlord from jail. When he was a school-usher he spent his earnings in treats for the boys, and the good-natured schoolmaster's wife said justly that she ought to keep Mr. Goldsmith's money as well as the young gentlemen's. When he met his pupils in later life, nothing would satisfy the Doctor but he must treat them still. “Have you seen the print of me after Sir Joshua Reynolds?” he asked of one of his old pupils. “Not seen it! Not bought it! Sure, Jack, if your picture had been published, I'd not have been without it half-anhour.” His purse and his heart were everybody's, and his friend's as much as his own. When he was at the height of his reputation, and the Earl of Northumberland, going as Lord Lieutenant to Ireland, asked if he could be of any service to Doctor Goldsmith, Goldsmith recommended his brother and not himself to the great man. “My patrons,” he gallantly said, “are the booksellers, and I want no others.” Hard patrons they were, and hard work he did; but he did not complain much. If in his early writings some bitter words escaped him, some allusions to neglect and poverty, he withdrew these expressions when his Works were republished, and better days seemed to open for him; and he did not dare to complain that printer and publisher had overlooked his merit or left him poor. The Court's face was turned from honest Oliver; the Court patronized Beattie. The fashion did not shine on him; fashion adored Sterne; fashion pronounced Kelly to be the great writer of comedy of his day. A little not ill-humor - but plaintiveness
- a little betrayal of wounded pride which he showed renders him not the less amiable. The author of the Vicar of Wakefield had a right to protest when Newbery kept back the manuscript for two years; had a right to be a little peevish with Sterne, angry when Colman's actors declined their parts in his delightful comedy, when the manager refused to have a scene painted for it and pronounced its damnation before hearing. He had not the great public with him; but he had the noble Johnson and the admirable Reynolds and the great Gibbon and the great Burke and the great Fox, friends and admirers illustrious indeed, as famous as those who, fifty years before, sat round Pope's table.
Nobody knows, and I dare say Goldsmith's buoyant temper kept
no account of, all the pains which he endured during the early period of his literary career. Should any man of letters in our day have to bear up against such, Heaven grant he may come out of the period of misfortune with such a pure, kind heart as that which Goldsmith obstinately bore in his breast! The insults to which he had to submit were shocking to read of, - slander, contumely, vulgar satire, brutal malignity, perverting his commonest motives and actions. He had his share of these; and one's anger is roused at reading of them, as it is at seeing a woman insulted or a child assaulted, at the notion that a creature so very gentle and weak, and full of love, should have to suffer so. And he had worse than insult to undergo, to own to fault, and deprecate the anger of ruffians. There is a letter of his extant to one Griffiths, a bookseller, in which poor Goldsmith is forced to confess that certain books sent by Griffiths are in the hands of a friend from whom Goldsmith had been forced to borrow money. “He was wild, sir,” Johnson said, speaking of Goldsmith to Boswell, with his great, wise benevolence and noble mercifulness of heart, — "Dr. Goldsmith was wild, sir; but he is no more.” Ah! if we pity the good and weak man who suffers undeservedly, let us deal very gently with him from whom misery extorts not only tears but shame; let us think humbly and charitably of the human nature that suffers so sadly and falls so low. Whose turn may it be to-morrow? What weak heart, confident before trial, may not succumb under temptation invincible? Cover the good man who has been vanquished, cover his face and pass on.
For the last half-dozen years of his life Goldsmith was far removed from the pressure of any ignoble necessity, and in the receipt, indeed, of a pretty large income from the booksellers, his patrons. Had he lived but a few years more, his public fame would have been as great as his private reputation, and he might have enjoyed alive part of that esteem which his country has ever since paid to the vivid and versatile genius who has touched on almost every subject of literature, and touched nothing that he did not adorn. Except in rare instances, a man is known in our profession and esteemed as a skilful workman years before the lucky hit which trebles his usual gains, and stamps him a popular author. In the strength of his age and the dawn of his reputation, having for backers and
friends the most illustrious literary men of his time, fame and prosperity might have been in store for Goldsmith had fate so willed it, and at forty-six had not sudden disease taken him off. I say prosperity rather than competence; for it is probable that no sum could have put order into his affairs, or sufficed for his irreclaimable habits of dissipation. It must be remembered that he owed £2000 when he died. "Was ever poet,” Johnson asked, “so trusted before?” As has been the case with many another good fellow of his nation, his life was tracked and his substance wasted by crowds of hungry beggars and lazy dependents. If they came at a lucky time (and be sure they knew his affairs better than he did himself, and watched his pay-day), he gave them of his money; if they begged on empty-purse day, he gave them his promissory bills, or he treated them to a tavern where he bad credit, or he obliged them with an order upon honest Mr. Filby for coats, for which he paid as long as he could earn, and until the shears of Filby were to cut for him no more. Staggering under a load of debt and labor; tracked by bailiffs and reproachful creditors; running from a hundred poor dependents, whose appealing looks were perhaps the hardest of all pains for him to bear; devising fevered plans for the morrow, new histories, new comedies, all sorts of new literary schemes; flying from all these into seclusion, and out of seclusion into pleasure, - at last, at five-and-forty death seized him and closed his career.
The younger Colman has left a touching reminiscence of him:
“I was only five years old,” he says, “when Goldsmith took me on his knee one evening whilst he was drinking coffee with my father, and began to play with me, which amiable act I returned, with the ingratitude of a peevish brat, by giving him a very smart slap on the face: it must have been a tingler, for it left the marks of my spiteful paw on his cheek. This infantile outrage was followed by summary justice, and I was locked up by my indignant father in an adjoining room to undergo solitary imprisonment in the dark. Here I began to howl and scream most abominably, which was no bad step toward my liberation, since those who were not inclined to pity me might be likely to set me free for the purpose of abating a nuisance.
“At length a generous friend appeared to extricate me from jeopardy; and that generous friend was no other than the man I had so wantonly molested by assault and battery. It was the tender-hearted Doctor himself, with a lighted candle in his hand and a smile upon his countenance, which was still partially red from the effects of my petulance. I sulked and sobbed as he fondled and soothed, till I began to brighten. Goldsmith seized the propitious moment of returning good-humor, when he put down the candle and began to conjure. He placed three hats, which happened to be in the room, and a shilling under each: the shillings, he told me, were England, France, and Spain. 'Hey, presto cockalorum!' cried the Doctor; and lo, on uncovering the shillings, which had been dispersed each beneath a separate bat, they were all found congregated under one! I was no politician at five years old, and therefore might not have wondered at the sudden revolution which brought England, France, and Spain all under one crown; but as also I was no conjuror, it amazed me beyond measure. ... From that time, whenever the Doctor came to visit my father, 'I plucked his gown to share the good man's smile;' a game at romps constantly ensued, and we were always cordial friends and merry playfellows. Our unequal companionship varied somewhat as to sports as I grew older; but it did not last long: my senior playmate died in his forty-fifth year, when I had attained my eleventh. ... In all the numerous accounts of his virtues and foibles, his genius and absurdities, his knowledge of nature and ignorance of the world, his 'compassion for another's woes' was always predominant; and my trivial story of his humoring a froward child weighs but as a feather in the recorded scale of his benevolence.”
Think of him reckless, thriftless, vain, if you like, but merciful, gentle, generous, full of love and pity. He passes out of our life, and goes to render his account beyond it. Think of the poor pensioners weeping at his grave; think of the noble spirits that ad. mired and deplored him; think of the righteous pen that wrote his epitaph, and of the wonderful and unanimous response of affection with which the world has paid back the love he gave it. His humor delighting us still, his song fresh and beautiful as when he first charmed with it, his words in all our mouths, his very weaknesses