« AnteriorContinuar »
CVIII. The utility and entertainment
A word or two upon High Life Belowo
CXIII. A literary contest of great import-
The Sentiments of a Frenchman on the
CXVII. A city night-piece,
the court of Japan,
ib. II. Specimen of a Magazine in Minia-
plified in the life of a private sen-
III. Asem, an eastern Tale; or, Vindica-
tion of the Wisdom of Providence
in the Moral Government of the
CXXI. The irresolution of the English ac-
IV. On the English Clergy and popular
CXXII. The manner of travellers in their
V. A Reverie at the Boar's-Head Tar.
The Life of Henry Lord Viscount Bolingbroke 407
VIII. Biographical Memoir supposed to be
The History of Hyspasia,
438 XIX. Schools of Music, Objections there-
Some particulars relative to Father XX. Carolan the Irish Bard,
LIFE AND WRITINGS
There are few writers for whom the reader feels | villages claim the honour of having giving him such personal kindness as for Oliver Goldsmith. birth: Pallas in the county of Longford; and ElThe fascinating ease and simplicity of his style; phin, in the county of Roscommon. The former the benevolence that beams through every page; is named as the place in the epitaph by Dr. Johnthe whimsical yet amiable views of human life and son, inscribed on his monument in Westminster human nature; the mellow unforced humour, Abbey; but later investigations have decided in fablended so happily with good feeling and good vour of Elphin. sense, throughout his writings; win their way ir He was the second son of the Rev. Charles resistibly to the affections and carry the author with Goldsmith, a clergyman of the established church, them. While writers of greater pretensions and but without any patrimony. His mother was more sounding names are suffered to lie upon our daughter of the Rev. Oliver Jones, master of the shelves, the works of Goldsmith are cherished and diocesan school at Elphin. It was not till some laid in our bosoms. We do not quote them with time after the birth of Oliver that his father obostentation, but they mingle with our minds; they tained the living of Kilkenny-West, in the county sweeten our tempers and harmonize our thoughts; of Westmeath. Previous to this period he and his they put us in good humour with ourselves and wife appear to have been almost entirely dependent with the world, and in so doing they make us hap-on her relations for support. pier and better men.
His father was equally distinguished for his liteWe have been curious therefore in gathering to rary attainments and for the benevolence of his gether all the heterogeneous particulars concerning heart. His family consisted of five sons and two poor Goldsmith that still exist; and seldom have we daughters. From this little world of home Goldmet with an author's life more illustrative of his smith has drawn many of his domestic scenes, works, or works more faithfully illustrative of the both whimsical and touching, which appeal so forauthor's life.* His rambling biography displays cihly to the heart, as well as to the fancy; his fahim the same kind, artless, good humoured, excur- ther’s fireside furnished many of the family scenes sive, sensible, whimsical, intelligent being that he of the Vicar of Wakefield; and it is said that the appears in his writings. Scarcely an adventure or learned simplicity and amiable peculiarities of that a character is given in his page that may not be worthy divine have been happily illustrated in the traced to his own parti-coloured story. Many of character of Dr. Primrose. his most ludicrous scenes and ridiculous incidents The Rev. Henry Goldsmith, elder brother of have been drawn from his own blunders and mis- the poet, and born seven years before him, was a chances, and he seems really to have been buffeted man of estimable worth and excellent talents. into almost every maxim imparted by him for the Great expectations were formed of hin, from the instruction of his readers.
promise of his youth, both when at school and at Oliver Goldsmith was a native of Ireland, and college ; but he offended and disappointed his was born on the 29th of November, 1728. Two friends, by entering into matrimony at the early
age of nineteen, and resigning all ambitious views The present biography is principally taken from the Scotch for love and a curacy. If, however, we may bednian of Goldsmith's works, published in 1821.
lieve the p:ctures diawn by the poet of his brother's
domestic life, his lot, though humble, was a happy placed under the care of a village school-master, to one. He is the village pastor of the “Deserted be instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, Village,” so exemplary in his character, and "pass- This pedagogue, whom his scholar afterwards so ing rich with forty pounds a year.” It is to this happily describes in the "Deserted Village,” had brother, who was the guide and protector of Gold-been a quarter-master in the army during the wars smith during his childhood, and to whom he was of Queen Anne, and, in his own estimation, a man tenderly attached, that he addresses those beautiful of no small pith and moment. Having passed lines in his poem of the Traveller :
through various parts of Europe, and being of an Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
eccentric turn of mind, he acquired habits of roMy heart untravell’d fondly turns to thee;
mancing that bordered on the marvellous, and, like Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
many other travellors, was possessed with a prodiAnd drags at each remove a length’ning chain.
gious itch for detailing his adventures. He himHis family also form the ruddy and joyous self was most commonly the redoubted hero of his group, and exercise the simple but generous rites own story, and his pupils were always the amazed of hospitality, which the poet so charmingly de- and willing auditory: scribes:
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
The tales of wonder recounted by this second Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale;
Pinto are said to have had surprising effects on his Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
youthful hearers; and it has been plausibly conAnd learn the luxury of doing good.
jectured that to the vivid impressions thus made on The whimsical character of the Man in Black, the young imagination of our author, may be asin the "Citizen of the World,” so rich in eccen- cribed those wandering. propensities which influtricities and in amiable failings, is said to have enced his after life. been likewise drawn partly from his brother, part After he had been for some time with this in. ly from his father, but in a great measure from the different preceptor, his mother, with whom he was author himself. It is difficult, however, to assign always a favourite, exerted her influence to per. with precision the originals of a writer's characters. suade his father to give him an education that would They are generally composed of scattered, though qualify him for a liberal profession. Her solicitaaccordant traits, observed in various individuals, tions, together with the passionate attachment which which have been seized upon with the discriminat- the boy evinced for books and learning, and his ing tact of genius and combined into one harmoni- early indications of talent, prevailed over all scruous whole. Still, it is a fact; as evident as it is de- ples of economy, and he was placed under the care lightful, that Goldsmith has poured out the genu- of the Rev. Mr. Griffin, schoolmaster of Elphin. ine feelings of his heart in his works; and has had He was boarded in the house of his uncle, John continually before him, in his delineations of simple Goldsmith, Esq., of Ballyoughter, in the vicinity. worth and domestic virtue, the objects of his filial Here the amiableness of his disposition and the and fraternal affection.
amusing eccentricity of his humour rendered him a Goldsmith is said, in his earlier years, to have universal favourite. A little anecdote, preserved been whimsical in his humours and eccentric in his by the family of his uncle evinces the precocity of habits. This was remarked in his infancy. Some-his wit. times he assumed the gravity and reserve of riper At an entertainment given by this gentleman to years, at other times would give free scope to the a party of young people in the neighbourhood, a wild frolic and exuberant vivacity suited to his age. fiddler was sent for, and dancing introduced. OliThe singularity of his moods and manners, and ver, although only nine years of age, was permitted the evidences he gave of a precocity of talent, caus- to share in the festivities of the evening, and was ed him to be talked of in the neighbourhood as a called on to dance a hornpipe. His figure was little prodigy. It is said that, even before he was never good, but at this time it was peculiarly short eight years old he evinced a natural turn for poet- and clumsy, and having but recently recovered from ry, and made many attempts at rhymes, to the the small-pox, his features were greatly disfigured. amusenient of his father and friends; and when The seraper of catgut, struck with the oddity of the somewhat older, after he had learned to write, his boy's appearance, thought to display his waggery, chief pleasure was to scribble rude verses on small by likening him to Æsop dancing. This compariscraps of paper, and then commit them to the son, according to his notions, being uncommonly flames.
happy, he continued to harp.on it for a considerable His father had strained his slender means in time, when suddenly the laugh of the company was giving a liberal education to hig, eldest son, and had turned against himself, by Oliver sarcastically redetermined to bring up Oliver to trade. He was marking,
Our herald hath proclaim'd this saying,
On the 11th of June, 1744, Goldsmith, then fifSee Æsop dancing, and his monkey playing.
teen years of age, was admitted a sizer in Trinity So smart a repartee, from so young a boy, was College, Dublin, under the Rev. Theaker Wilder, the subject of much conversation, and perhaps of one of the fellows, a man of violent temper, from itself was decisive of his fortune. His friends im- whose overbearing disposition he suffered much mediately determined that he should be sent to the vexation. The young student was giddy and university; and some of his relations, who belonged thoughtless, and on one occasion invited a number to the church, and possessed the necessary means, of young persons of both sexes to a supper and generously offered to contribute towards the ex- dance in his apartments, in direct violation of the pense. The Rev. Mr. Green, and the Rev. Mr. college rules. The vigilant Wilder became apContarine, both men of distinguished worth and prised of the circumstance, and rushed like a tiger learning, stood forward on this occasion as the to the festive scene. He burst into the apartment, youth's patrons.
put the gay assembly to the rout, but previous to To qualify him for the university, he was now their dispersion, seized on the unfortunate delinsent to Athlone school, and placed under the tui- quent, and inflicted corporal chastisement on him, tion of the Rev. Mr. Campbell. There he re- in presence of the party. mained two years; but the ill health of the master The youthful poet could not brook this outrage having obliged him to resign his situation, Oliver and indignity. He could not look his acquaintances was consigned to the care of the Rev. Patrick in the face without the deepest feeling of shame and Hughes, at Edgeworthstown, in the county of mortification. He determined, therefore, to escape Longford, under whom he continued his studies till altogether from his terrible tutor, by abandoning his finally fitted for the university. Under this re- studies, and flying to some distant part of the globe. spectable teacher and excellent man, he is said to With this view he disposed of his books and clothes, bave made much greater progress than under any and resolved to embark at Cork: but here his usual of the rest of his instructors.
thoughtless and improvident turn was again disA short time before leaving the school of Mr. played, for he lingered so long in Dublin after his Hughes, our poet had an adventure which is be- resolution had been taken, that his finances were lieved to have suggested the plot of his comedy of reduced to a single shilling when he set out on the "She Stoops to Conquer, or the Mistakes of a journey. Night.”
He was accustomed afterwards to give a ludiHis father's house was distant about twenty crous account of his adventures in this expedition, miles from Edgeworthstown, and when on his jour- although it was attended by many distressful cirney thither for the last time, he had devoted so cumstances. Having contrived to subsist three much time to amusement on the road, that it was whole days on the shilling he set out with, he was almost dark when he reached the little town of Ar- then compelled by necessity to sell the clothes off dagh. Some friend had given him a guinea, and his back, and at last was so reduced by famine, that Oliver, who was never niggard of his purse, re- he was only saved from sinking under it by the solved to put up here for the night, and treat him- compassion of a young girl at a wake, from whom self to a good supper and a bed. Having asked he got a handful of gray peas. This he used to say for the best house in the village, he was conducted was the most delicious repast he had ever made. to the best house, instead of the best inn. The While in this state of hunger and wretchedness, owner, immediately discovered the mistake, but be- without money and without friends, the rashness ing a man of humour, resolved to carry on the joke. and folly of his undertaking became every moment Oliver was therefore permitted to order his horse more apparent, and, in spite of his lacerated feelto the stable, while he himself walked into the par- ings, and the dread of Wilder, he resolved to probour, and took his seat familiarly by the fire-side. pose a reconciliation with his friends, and once The servants were then called about him to receive more to return to the college. Before he had his orders as to supper. The supper was soon reached the place of embarkation, therefore, he conproduced; the gentleman, with his wife and daugh- trived to get notice conveyed to his brother of his ters
, were generously invited to partake; a bottle miserable condition, and hinted that if a promise of wine was called for to crown the feast, and at of nuilder treatment were obtained from his tutor, going to bed, a hot cake was ordered to be prepared he should be inclined to return. His affectionate fiæ his breakfast. The laugh, to be sure, was ra- brother instantly hastened to relieve his distress, ther against our hero in the morning, when he equipped him with new clothing, and carried him called for his bill, and found he had been hospitably back to college. A reconciliation was also in some entertained in a private family. But finding that degree effected with Wilder, but there was never his host was an acquaintance of his father's, he en- afterwards between them any interchange of friendtered into the humour of the scene, and laughed as ship or regard. beartily as the rest.
From the despondency resulting from his tutor's