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and the company generally consisted of literary characters, a few Templars, and some citizens who had left off trade. The whole expences of this day's fete never exceeded a crown, and oftener from threeand-sixpence to four shillings, for which the party obtained good air and exercise, good living, the example of simple manners, and good conversation."
The reception given to the Deserted Village, so full of natural elegance, simplicity, and pathos, was of the warmest kind. The publish-, er shewed at once his skill and generosity, by pressing upon Doctor Goldsmith a hundred pounds, which the author insisted upon return
upon computation he found that it came to nearly a crown for every couplet, a sum which he conceived no poem could be worth. The sale of the poem made him ample amends for this unusual instance of moderation. Lissoy, near Ballymahon, where his brother the clergyman had his living, claims the honour of being the spot from which the localities of the Deserted Village were derived. The church which tops the neighbouring hill, the mill, and the lake, are still pointed out; and a hawthorn has suffered the penalty of poetical celebrity, being cut to pieces by those admirers of the bard, who desired to have classical tooth-pick cases and tobacco-stoppers. Much of this supposed locality may be fanciful, but it is a pleasing tribute to the poet in the land of his fathers.
Goldsmith's Abridgments of the History of Rome and England may here be noticed. They are eminently well calculated to introduce youth to the knowledge of their studies ; for they exhibit the most interesting and striking events, without entering into controversy or dry detail. Yet the tone assumed in the History of England drew on the author the resentment of the more zealous Whigs, who accused him of betraying the liberties of the people, when, “ God knows," as he expresses himself in a letter to Langton, “ I had no thought for or against liberty in my head ; my whole aim being to make up a book of a decent size, and which, as Squire Richard says, would do no harm to nobody.”
His celebrated play of She Stoops to Conquer, was Goldsmith's next
work of importance. If it be the object of comedy to make an audience laugh, Johnson says that it was better obtained by this play than by any other of the period. Lee Lewes was, for the first time, produced in a speaking character, as young Marlow, and is, therefore, entitled to record his own recollections concerning the piece.
“ The first night of its performance, Goldsmith, instead of being at the Theatre, was found sauntering, between seven and eight o'clock, in the Mall, St James's Park; and it was on the remonstrance of a friend, who told him how useful his presence might be in making some sudden alterations which might be found necessary in the piece,' that he was prevailed on to go to the Theatre. He entered the stage-door just in the middle of the fifth act, when there was a hiss at the improbability of Mrs Hardcastle supposing herself forty miles off, though on her own grounds, and near the house." What's that ?' says the Doctor, terrified at the sound. Pshaw, Doctor,' says Colman, who was standing by the side of the scene, don't be fearful of squibs, when we have been sitting almost these two hours upon a barrel of gunpowder.'
“In the Life of Dr Goldsmith, prefixed to his Works, the above reply of Colman's is said to have happened at the last rehearsal of the piece, but the fact was (I had it from the Doctor himself) as I have stated, and he never forgave it to Colman to the last hour of his life.” It may be here noticed, that the leading incident of the piece was borrowed from a blunder of the author himself, who, while travelling in Ireland, actually mistook a gentleman's residence for an inn.
It must be owned, that however kind, amiable, and benevolent, Goldsmith shewed himself to his contemporaries, more especially to such as needed his assistance, he had no small portion of the jealous and irritable spirit proper to the literary profession. He suffered a newspaper lampoon about this time to bring him into a foolish affray with Evans the editor, which did him but little credit.
In the meantime, a neglect of economy, occasional losses at play, and too great a reliance on his own versatility and readiness of talent, had considerably embarrassed his affairs. He felt the pressure of many engagements, for which he had received advances of money, and which it was, nevertheless, impossible for him to carry on with that dispatch, which the booksellers thought themselves entitled to expect. One of his last publications was a History of the Earth and Animated Nature, in six volumes, which is to science what his abridgments are to history; a book which indicates no depth of research, or accuracy of information, but which presents to the ordinary reader a general and interesting view of the subject, couched in the clearest and most beautiful language, and abounding with excellent reflections and illustrations. It was of this work that Johnson threw out the remark which he afterwards interwove in his friend's epitaph,“ He is now writing a Natural History, and will make it as agreeable as a Persian Tale."
But the period of his labours was now near. Goldsmith had for some time been subject to fits of the stranguary, brought on by too severe application to sedentary labours; and one of those attacks, aggravated by mental distress, produced a fever. In spite of cautions to the contrary, he had recourse to Dr James's fever powders, from which he received no relief. He died on the 4th April, 1774, and was privately interred in the Temple burial-ground. A monument, erected by subscription in Westminster-Abbey, bears a Latin inscription from the pen of Dr Johnson:
Poetæ, Physici, Historici,
Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit,
In loco cui nomen Pallas,
This elegant epitaph was the subject of a petition to Dr Johnson, in the form of a round robin, entreating him to substitute an English inscription, as more proper for an author who had distinguished himself entirely by works written in English; but the Doctor kept his pur-) pose.
The person and features of Dr Goldsmith were rather unfavourable. He was a short stout man, with a round face, much marked with the small pox, and a low forehead, which is represented as projecting in a singular manner. Yet these ordinary features were marked by a strong expression of reflection and of observation.
The peculiarities of Goldsmith's disposition have been already touched upon in the preceding narrative. He was a friend to virtue, and in his most playful pages never forgets what is due to her. A gentleness, delicacy, and purity of feeling, distinguishes whatever he wrote, and bears a correspondence to the generosity of a disposition which knew no bounds but his last guinea. It were almost essential to such a temper, that he wanted the proper guards of firmness and decision, and permitted, even when aware of their worthlessness, the intrusions of cunning and of effrontery. The story of the White Mice is well known; and in the humorous History of the Haunch of Venison, Goldsmith has recorded another instance of his being duped. This could not be entirely out of simplicity; for he, who could so well embody and record the impositions
of Master Jenkinson, might surely have penetrated the schemes of more ordinary swindlers. But Goldsmith could not give a refusal; and, being thus cheated with his eyes open, no man could be a surer or easier victim to the impostors, whose arts he could so well describe. He might certainly have accepted the draught on neighbour Flamborough, and indubitably would have made the celebrated bargain of the gross of green spectacles. With this cullibility of tèmper was mixed a hasty and eager jealousy of his own personal consequence: he unwillingly admitted that any thing was done better than he himself could have performed it; and sometimes made himself ridiculous by hastily undertaking to distinguish himself upon subjects which he did not understand. But with
these weaknesses, and with that of carelessness in his own affairs, terminates all that censure can say of Goldsmith. · The folly of submitting to imposition may be well balanced with the universality of his benevolence; and the wit which his writings evince, more than counterbalances his defects in conversation. “As a writer," says Dr Johnson," he was of the most distinguished class.
Whatever he composed, he did it better than any other man could. And whether we regard him as a poet, as a comic writer, or as a historian, he was one of the first writers of his time, and will ever stand in the foremost class."
Excepting some short Tales, Goldsmith gave to the department of the novelist only one work—the inimitable Vicar of Wakefield. We have seen that it was suppressed for nearly two years, until the publication of the Traveller had fixed the author's fame. Goldsmith had, therefore, time for revisal, but he did not employ it. He had been paid for his labour, as he observed, and could have profited nothing by rendering the work ever so perfect. This, however, was false reasoning, though not unnatural in the mouth of the author who must earn daily bread by daily labour. The narrative, which in itself is as simple as possible, might have been cleared of certain improbabilities, or rather impossibilities, which it now exhibits. We cannot, for instance, conceive how Sir William Thornhill should contrive to masquerade under the name of Burchell among his own tenantry, and upon his own estate ; and it is absolutely impossible to see how his nephew, the son, doubtless, of a younger brother, (since Sir William inherited both title and property,) should be nearly as old as the Baronet himself. It may be added, that the character of Burchell, or Sir William Thornhill, is in itself extravagantly unnatural. A man of his benevolence would never have so long left his nephew in the possession of wealth which he employed to the worst of purposes. Far less would he have permitted his scheme upon Olivia in a great measure to succeed, and that upon Sophia also to approach consummation; for, in the first instance, he does not interfere at all, and in the second, his intervention is accidental. These, and some other little