Слике страница

ill treatment, Goldsmith is said to have sunk into | Week after week passed away, and no tidings habitual indolence; yet his genius sometimes dawn- of the fugitive. At last, when all hope of his reed through the gloom, and translations from the turn had been given up, and when they concluded classics made by him at this period were long re- he must have left the country altogether, the famimembered by his cotemporaries with applause. He ly were astonished by his sudden reappearance at was not, however, admitted to the degree of Bache- his mother's house; safe and sound, to be sure, but lor of Arts till February 27, 1749, O. S. two years not exactly in such good trim as when he had left after the regular time. them. His horse was metamorphosed into a The chagrin and vexation attending his unlucky shabby little pony, not worth twenty shillings; disputes with his tutor, were soon after succeeded and instead of thirty pounds in his pocket, he was by a calamity of deeper moment, and more lasting without a penny. On this occasion the indignation consequences to our poet. This was the death of of his mother was strongly expressed; but his his worthy and amiable father. He had now lost brothers and sisters, who were all tenderly attachhis natural guardian and best friend, and founded to him, interfered, and soon effected a reconhimself young in the world, without either protector ciliation. or guide. His uncle Contarine, however, in this Once more reinstated in the good graces of his emergency kindly interfered, and, with almost pa- family, our poet amused them with a detail of rental anxiety, took the charge of advising and di4 his adventures in this last expedition. He prerecting his future progress. When he had com- mised that he had long felt a strong inclination to pleted his studies at the university,* Mr. Contarine visit the New World, but knowing that his friends advised him to prepare for holy orders; but this was would throw obstacles in the way of his departure, a measure always repugnant to his inclinations. he had determined to set out unknown to any of An unsettled turn of mind, an unquenchable de-them. Intending to embark at Cork, he had gone sire of visiting other countries, and perhaps an in- directly thither, and immediately after he arrived genuous sense of his unfitness for the clerical pro- disposed of his horse, and struck a bargain with a fession, conspired to disincline him to the church; captain of a ship bound for North America.. For and though at length he yielded to the pressing so- three weeks after his arrival, the wind continued licitations of his uncle and friends, by applying to unfavorable for putting to sea; and the vessel rethe bishop for ordination, it is thought he was more mained wind-bound in the harbour. In the mean pleased than disappointed when rejected by his time, he amused himself by sauntering about the lordship, on account of his youth. He was now city and its environs, satisfying his curiosity, and anxious, however, to be employed in some way or examining every object worthy of notice. Havother, and when the office of private tutor in the ing formed some acquaintances by means of the family of a neighbouring gentleman was offered to captain, he accompanied a party on an excursion him, he willingly accepted it. In this situation he into the country. The idea never occurred to him, remained about a year; but finding the employment that the wind, which had blown so perversely much more disagreeable than he had been taught a-head during there weeks, might change in a sinto believe it, and the necessary confinement pain-gle day; he was not less surprised than chagrined, fully irksome, he suddenly gave up his charge, pro- therefore, on his return next morning, to find the cured a good horse, and, with about thirty pounds vessel gone. This was a death-blow to his scheme which he had saved, quitted his friends, and set of emigration, as his passage-money was already out nobody knew whither. in the pocket of the captain.

As this singular unpremeditated step had been taken without consulting any of his friends, and as no intelligence could be obtained either of himself or the motives which had prompted his departure, his family became much alarmed for his safety, and were justly offended at his conduct.

Mortified and disappointed, he lingered about Cork, irresolute what to do, until the languishing state of his purse, which was reduced to two guineas, admonished him to make the best of his way home. He accordingly bought a poor little pony, which he called Fiddleback, and found that he had just five shillings left to defray the travelling expen*During his studies at the university, he was a contempo- ses of himself and his steed. This pittance, howrary with Burke; and it has been said that neither of them ever, was rather too scanty for a journey of a hungave much promise of future celebrity. Goldsmith, however, dred and twenty miles, and he was at a loss how got a premium at a Christmas examination; and a premium to procure a further supply. He at last bethought

obtained at such examination is more honourable than any

other, because it ascertains the person who receives it to be himself of an old college friend, who lived on the the first in literary merit. At the other examinations, the road, not far from Cork, and determined to apply person thus distinguished may be only the second in merit; to him for assistance. Having been often pressed he who has previously obtained the same honorary reward, by this person to spend a summer at his house, he

sometimes receiving a written certificate that he was the best

wwerer; it being a rule, that not more than one premium had the less hesitation in paying him a visit under This present circumstances, and doubted not that he

be adjudged to the same person in one year.

would at once obtain all the aid his situation re- "return home immediately. You can never do withquired. When on the road to the house of his out the assistance of your friends; and if you keep friend, a poor woman with eight children, whose them longer in suspense and alarm by remaining husband had been thrown into jail for rent, threw away, you will only widen the breach which your herself in his way and implored for relief. The rashness must have already occasioned, and perhaps feelings of humanity being ever most easily awak-induce them to throw you off altogether." "But," ened in Oliver's bosom, he gave her all that re- rejoined Oliver, "how am I to get on without momained in his purse, and trusted his own wants to ney? I told you I had not a shilling left, and it is the expected liberality of his old fellow-collegian. quite impossible for me to proceed on the journey, This dear friend, whose promised hospitalities unless you should be so obliging as to lend me a were so securely relied on, received him with much guinea for the purpose." Here again his friend's apparent satisfaction, and only appeared anxious countenance fell. He pleaded his inability to lend, to learn the motive which could have prompted in consequence of having spent all his ready cash this chance visit. Charmed with this seeming cor- during his late illness, interlarding this apology diality with which he was received, Oliver gave with many sage aphorisms on the disadvantages of him an artless and honest account of his whole ex-borrowing, and the sin of running into debt. "But pedition; and did not even conceal the offence my dear fellow," resumed he, “I'll tell you how which his departure must have given to his friends. you may get over the difficulty. May you not His good host listened with profound attention, sell the little horse you brought with you last and appeared to take so much interest in the detail night? The price of it will be sufficient for all of our poet's adventures, that he was at length in- your expenses till you arrive among your friends, duced to disclose the immediate object of his visit. and, in the mean time, I think I can furnish you This chanced to be the true touch-stone for try-with another to help you forward on the jouring the liberality of so honest a friend. A profound ney." Oliver could discover no objection to a plan sigh, and querulous declamation on his own in- so feasible, and therefore agreed to it at once; but firm state of health, was the only return to his hint when he asked for a sight of the steed which was for assistance. When pressed a little further, this to carry him home, his host, with solemn gravity, kind friend drily remarked, that for his part he drew from under the bed a stout oaken staff, which could not understand how some people got them- he presented to him with a grin of self-approbaselves into scrapes; that on any other occasion he tion. Our poor poet now lost all patience, and was would have been happy to accommodate an old just about to snatch it from him, and apply it to comrade, but really he had been lately so very ill, his pate, when a loud rap announced a visiter. A and was, even now, in such a sickly condition, person of interesting appearance was immediately that it was very inconvenient to entertain compa- afterwards ushered into the room, and, when the usny of any kind. Besides, he could not well ask a ual compliments were over, Oliver was presented to person in health to share in his slops and milk him by his host, as if nothing had happened, and diet. If, however, Mr. Goldsmith could think of described as the learned and ingenious young man putting up with the family fare, such as it was, he of whom he had heard so much while at college. would be made welcome; at the same time he The agreeable manners of this gentleman soon must apprise him that it might not soon be got gave an interesting turn to the conversation. Harready. The astonishment and dismay of our poet mony appeared to be once more restored between at the conclusion of this speech was sufficiently Oliver and his host, and the stranger invited them visible in his lengthened visage. Nothing but the both to dine with him the following day. This atter emptiness of his purse, and his great distance was not acceded to on the part of the poet, withfrom home, could have induced him to pocket the out considerable reluctance; but the gentleman's insult, or accept so inhospitable an invitation. No pressing solicitations prevailed on him to consent. better, however, could be made of it in his present The hospitality and kindness displayed at this percircumstances; so without showing his chagrin, he son's table was a striking contrast to the penury good-humouredly partook of a miserable supper of brown bread and butter milk, served up at a late hour by a miserable looking old woman, the fit handmaid of so miserable a master.

and meanness exhibited by his fellow-collegian, and Oliver could hardly refrain from making some sarcastic remarks on the difference. The hints on this subject which were occasionally hazarded by Notwithstanding the base colours in which our the poet, led the gentleman to suspect that the two poet's host had exhibited himself, the former had too friends were not on the most cordial terms. He much good-nature to harbour resentment. When was therefore induced to invite our poet to spend a they met in the morning, therefore, he entered fa- few days at his house. An invitation of this kind, miliarly into conversation, and even condescended so opportunely and handsomely given, was a forto ask what he would advise him to do in his pre-tunate circumstance for Oliver. He did not hesisent difficulty. "My dear fellow," said his host, Itate a moment to accept it, and at parting with his

dear fellow-collegian, archly recommended to him deposited his trunk in lodgings than he sallied out to take good care of the steed kept at so much ex- to see the town. He rambled about until a late pense for the use of his friends; and, of all things, hour, and when he felt disposed to turn his face to beware of surfeiting them with a milk diet. To homeward, recollected for the first time that he this sarcasm the other only replied by a sneer at knew neither the name nor address of his landlady. the poet's poverty and improvident disposition. In this dilemma, as he was wandering at random, Their host being well acquainted with the charac-he fortunately met with the porter who had carried ter of his neighbour, seemed, when Oliver after- his baggage, and who now served him as a guide. wards recounted to him all the circumstances that In the University of Edinburgh, at that time be had taken place, to be more amused than surprised coming famous as a school of medicine, he attendat the detail. ed the lectures of the celebrated Monro, and the

In the house of this new friend Goldsmith expe- other professors in medical science. What prorienced the most hospitable entertainment for seve-gress he made in this study, however, is not parral days. Two beautiful daughters, as well as the ticularly ascertained. Riotous conviviality, and host himself, were emulous in finding amusement tavern adjournments, whether for business or pleafor their guest during his stay; and when about to sure, were at that time characteristic of Edinburgh depart, he was offered money to defray the expense society; and it does not appear that our poet was of his journey, and a servant to attend him on able to resist the general contagion. His attention horseback. The servant and horse he declined, to his studies was far from being regular. Dissibut accepted of a loan of three half-guineas; and pation and play allured him from the class-room, with sentiments of the deepest respect and grati- and his health and his purse suffered in consetude, took leave of his benevolent host. quence. About this period, his contemporaries have He now pursued his journey without any fur-reported, that he sometimes also sacrificed to the ther interruption, and arrived at his mother's house Muses, but of these early effusions no specimen in the sudden and unexpected manner already nar-seems to have been preserved. rated. Once more reconciled to his friends, he did The social and good-humoured qualities of our not fail to transmit to his kind benefactor suitable acknowledgments expressive of the grateful sense he entertained of such unlooked-for and generous hospitality.

poet appear to have made him a general favourite with his fellow-students. He was a keen participator in all their wild pranks and humorous frolics. He was also a prime table companion: always reaIt was now considered essential that he should dy with story, anecdote, or song, though it must be fix on a profession, the pursuit of which might di- confessed that in such exhibitions he was far from vert him from idle and expensive habits. After being successful. His narrations were too frequentvarious consultations, it was determined that he ly accompanied by grimace or buffoonery; nor was should begin the study of the law, and his uncle his wit of that chaste and classical kind that might Contarine agreed to advance the necessary funds. have been expected from his education. On the Provided with money for the expenses of his jour-contrary, it was generally forced, coarse, and unney, and to enable him to enter on his studies at natural. All his oral communications partook of the Temple, Oliver set out for London, but his these defects; and it is a fact not less true than sincustomary imprudence again interfered. He fell gular, that even in after life he was never exempt by accident into the company of a sharper in Dub-from them, although accustomed to the politest lilin, and being tempted to engage in play, was soon terary society. plundered of all his money, and again left to find When conversing on this feature in our poet's his way home without a shilling in his pocket. character, his friend Dr. Johnson many years afterHis friends now almost despaired of him. Not- wards, justly, but perhaps rather severely, remarkwithstanding the brilliancy of his natural talents, ed, "The misfortune of Goldsmith in conversation it was feared that his habitual carelessness and im- is this: he goes on without knowing how he is to get providence would form a bar to his success in any off. His genius is great, but his knowledge is small. profession whatever. That it would be vain for As they say of a generous man, it is a pity he is him to pursue the study of the law with such dis- not rich, we may say of Goldsmith, it is a pity he is positions was obvious; and, of course, it was neces- not knowing: he would not keep his knowledge to sary once more to cast about for a profession. Af- himself." ter various consultations, therefore, it was finally On another occasion, Johnson being called on for determined that physic should be his future pur- his opinion on the same subject, took a similar view suit; and his kind uncle, who had been prevailed of it, with much critical acumen, and all his usual on to pardon him once more, took him again under power of amplification. 'Goldsmith," said he, his protection, and at last fixed him at Edinburgh "should not be for ever attempting to shine in conas a student of medicine, about the end of the year versation; he has not temper for it, he is so much 1752. On his arrival in that city, he had no sooner mortified when he fails. A game of jokes is com

[ocr errors]

posed partly of skill, partly of chance; a man may | The ship made a tolerable appearance, and as anobe beat at times by one who has not the tenth part ther inducement, I was let to know that six agreeof his wit. Now Goldsmith's putting himself able passengers were to be my company. Well, against another, is like a man laying a hundred to we were but two days at sea when a storm drove one, who can not spare the hundred. It is not us into a city of England, called Newcastle-uponworth a man's while. A man should not lay a Tyne. We all went ashore to refresh us, after the hundred to one, unless he can easily spare it; though fatigue of our voyage. Seven men and I were one he has a hundred chances for him, he can get but day on shore, and on the following evening, as we a guinea, and he may lose a hundred. Goldsmith were all very merry, the room door bursts open, enis in this state: when he contends, if he get the betters a sergeant and twelve grenadiers, with their ter, it is a very little addition to a man of his literary bayonets screwed, and puts us all under the king's reputation; if he do not get the better, he is misera-arrest. It seems my company were Scotchmen in bly vexed." the French service, and had been in Scotland to

Though now arrived at an age when reflection enlist soldiers for the French army. I endeavoured on passing objects and events might have been oc-all I could to prove my innocence; however, I recasionally elicited, yet it does not appear that any mained in prison with the rest a fortnight, and with thing of that kind worth preserving occurred in our difficulty got off even then. Dear sir, keep this all poet's correspondence with his friends. The only a secret, or at least say it was for debt; for if it were circumstance which seems to have excited particu- once known at the university, I should hardly get lar remark was the economy of the Scotch in cook-a degree. But hear how Providence interposed in ing and eating; and of this he would sometimes give my favour; the ship was gone on to Bordeaux berather a ludicrous account. His first landlady, he fore I got from prison, and was wrecked at the used to say, nearly starved him out of his lodgings; mouth of the Garonne, and every one of the crew and the second, though somewhat more liberal, was were drowned. It happened the last great storm. still a wonderful adept in the art of saving. When There was a ship at that time ready for Holland; permitted to put forth all her talents in this way, I embarked, and in nine days, thank my God, I arshe would perform surprising feats. A single loin rived safe at Rotterdam, whence I travelled by land of mutton would sometimes be made to serve our to Leyden, and whence I now write." poet and two fellow-students a whole week; a bran- He proceeds in the same letter to amuse his dered chop was served up one day, a fried steak ano-friends with a whimsical account of the costume ther, collops with onion sauce a third, and so on, till and manners of the Hollanders; which we also exthe fleshy parts were quite consumed, when finally tract for the entertainment of the reader. a dish of broth was made from the well-picked bones on the seventh day, and the landlady rested fron her labours.

"You may expect some account of this country; and though I am not well qualified for such an undertaking, yet I shall endeavour to satisfy some After he had attended some courses of lectures at part of your expectations. Nothing surprised me Edinburgh, it was thought advisable that he should more than the books every day published descripcomplete his medical studies at the University of tive of the manners of this country. Any young Leyden, then celebrated as a great medical school: man who takes it into his head to publish his travels, his uncle Contarine furnishing the funds. Gold- visits the countries he intends to describe; passes sunith accordingly looked out at Leith for a vessel through them with as much inattention as his valet for Holland; but finding one about to sail for Bor-de chambre; and consequently, not having a fund deaux, with his usual eccentricity engaged a pas- himself to fill a volume, he applies to those who sage. He found himself, however, in an awkward wrote before him, and gives us the manners of a dilemma about the time of embarkation. He had country; not as he must have seen them, but such become security to a tailor for a fellow-student in a as they might have been fifty years before. The considerable amount. The tailor arrested him for modern Dutchman is quite a different creature from debt; and, but for the interference of Mr. Lachlan him of former times: he in every thing imitates a Maclane and Dr. Sleigh, he would have been Frenchman, but in his easy disengaged air, which thrown into prison. Rescued from this difficulty, is the result of keeping polite company. The he embarked, but encountered a storm, and a de- Dutchman is vastly ceremonious, and is perhaps tention, and an escape from shipwreck, and finally exactly what a Frenchman might have been in the arrived safe at Rotterdam, instead of Bordeaux; all reign of Louis XIV. Such are the better bred. which is thus related by himself, in an extract from But the downright Hollander is one of the oldest a letter, without date, to his generous uncle Conta- figures in nature. Upon a head of lank hair he rine. wears a half-cocked narrow hat, laced with black "Some time after the receipt of your last, I em-riband; no coat, but seven waistcoats, and nine pair barked for Bordeaux, on board a Scotch ship, call- of breeches; so that his hips reach almost up to his ed the St. Andrew, Captain John Wall, master. arm-pits. This well-clothed vegetable is now fit to

see company, or make love. But what a pleasing thing can equal its beauty. Wherever I turn my creature is the object of his appetite? Why, she eyes, fine houses, elegant gardens, statues, grottos, wears a large fur cap, with a deal of Flanders lace; vistas, presented themselves; but when you enter and for every pair of breeches he carries, she puts their towns you are charmed beyond description. on two petticoats. No misery is to be seen here; every one is useful

"A Dutch lady burns nothing about her phleg-ly employed. matic admirer but his tobacco. You must know,

"Scotland and this country bear the highest sir, every woman carries in her hand a stove with contrast. There, hills and rocks intercept every coals in it, which, when she sits, she snugs under prospect; here, 'tis all a continued plain. There her petticoats; and at this chimney dozing Strephon you might see a well dressed duchess issuing from lights his pipe. I take it that this continual smok- a dirty close; and here a dirty Dutchman inhabiting is what gives the man the ruddy healthful com- ing a palace. The Scotch may be compared to a plexion he generally wears, by draining his super- tulip planted in dung; but I never see a Dutchman fluous moisture; while the woman, deprived of this in his own house, but I think of a magnificent amusement, overflows with such viscidities as tint Egyptian temple dedicated to an ox, the complexion, and give that paleness of visage "Physic is by no means taught here so well as which low fenny grounds and moist air conspire to in Edinburgh; and in all Leyden there are but cause. A Dutch woman and a Scotch will bear four British students, owing to all necessaries being an opposition. The one is pale and fat, the other so extremely dear, and the professors so very lazy lean and ruddy. The one walks as if she were (the chemical professor excepted,) that we don't straddling after a go-cart, and the other takes too much care to come hither. I am not certain how masculine a stride. I shall not endeavour to de-long my stay here may be; however, I expect to prive either country of its share of beauty; but have the happiness of seeing you at Kilmore, if I must say, that of all objects on this earth, an En- can, next March." glish farmer's daughter is most charming. Every While resident in Leyden, he attended the lecwoman there is a complete beauty, while the higher tures of Gaubius on chemistry, and those of Albiclass of women want many of the requisites to nus on anatomy. In the letters of Goldsmith to make them even tolerable. Their pleasures here his uncle, Gaubius is the only professor of whose are very dull, though very various. You may talents he gives a favourable opinion. Of all the smoke, you may doze, you may go to the Italian other professors he seems to have formed rather a comedy, as good an amusement as either of the for- contemptuous estimate; and with regard to the inmer. This entertainment always brings in Har- habitants in general, his remarks are by no means lequin, who is generally a magician; and in conse of a laudatory description. But to appreciate the quence of his diabolical art, performs a thousand characters of men, and describe the manners of a tricks on the rest of the persons of the drama, who people with accuracy, require the nicest discrimiare all fools. I have seen the pit in a roar of laugh- nation, and much knowledge of the world. On ter at this humour, when with his sword he touches such subjects, therefore, the opinions of our poet, the glass from which another was drinking. 'Twas at this carly period of his life, are to be the less renot his face they laughed at, for that was masked: garded. His Dutch characteristics can only be they must have seen something vastly queer in the deemed good humoured caricatures, and probably wooden sword, that neither I, nor you, sir, were were drawn as such, merely for the amusement of you there, could see. his friends in Ireland.

"In winter, when their canals are frozen, every It happened, unfortunately for Goldsmith, that house is forsaken, and all people are on the ice; one of his most dangerous propensities met with sleds drawn by horses, and skating, are at that too much encouragement during his stay in Holtime the reigning amusements. They have boats land. The people of that country are much addicthere that slide on the ice, and are driven by the ed to games of chance. Gaming tables are to be winds. When they spread all their sails they go met with in every tavern, and at every place of more than a mile and a half a minute, and their amusement. Goldsmith, unable to resist the conmotion is so rapid, the eye can scarcely accompany tagion of example, with his usual facility sailed them. Their ordinary manner of travelling is very with the stream; and fortune, according to custom, cheap and very convenient. They sail in covered alternately greeted him with smiles and frowns. boats drawn by horses; and in these you are sure. His friend, Dr. Ellis, who was then also studyto meet people of all nations. Here the Dutch ing at Leyden, used to relate, that on one occasion slumber, the French chatter, and the English play he came to him with much exultation, and countat cards. Any man who likes company, may have them to his taste. For my part, I generally detached myself from all society, and was wholly reputation. He was the favourite pupil of Boerhaave, and

taken up in observing the face of the country. No

• Gaubius died in 1780, at the age of 75, leaving a splendid

wrote several learned and ingenious works.

† Afterwards clerk of the Irish House of Commons.

« ПретходнаНастави »