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times affects one in his writings, as though conversation happened to turn upon his fathe author appeared in a dress of style vorite topics. Fontenelle continued his too gay and social for the subject.
triumph until about twelve o'clock, when After his rejection by the Bishop, he Voltaire appeared at last roused from his took passage for America, and as might reverie; his whole frame seemed animated; be expected, after he had paid his passage, he began his defence with the utmost dethe ship sailed without him.
fiance mixed with spirit, and now and then Then follows the chapter of his travels ; let fall the finest strokes of raillery upon a passage of his life from which he collect- his antagonist; and his harangue lasted ed much of the humorous and moral ex- till three in the morning. I must confess, perience which is transmitted to us in his that, whether from national partiality, or works. After two years spent in roving from the elegant sensibility of his manner, about the continent, subsisting often upon I never was so charmed, nor did I ever recharity, or, to dignify it by a better title, member so absolute a victory as he gained upon the hospitality of such as were ready in this dispute.” to befriend the homeless wanderer, he It has been usual to stigmatize Voltaire landed at Dover, in 1756, without money, as the enemy and reviler of every thing without friends, and without the prospect truly grand and noble; however unfortuof a business.
nate he was in his religious sentiments, it Before passing to his literary life, it is still necessary to defend him against the should be mentioned, however, that his as- charge of insensibility to the sublime and sociates, during the years of his absence, beautiful. were not always mean or insignificant. “After his landing in England we find During a brief sojourn in Paris, he made Goldsmith,” says his biographer, “launchthe acquaintance of Voltaire : “As a com- ed on the great metropolis, or rather driftpanion,” says he, no man ever exceeded ing about its streets, at night, in the Voltaire, when he pleased to lead the con- gloomy month of February, with but a versation, which, however, was not always few half-pence in his pocket.” the case. In company which he either
His next appearance is that of an usher disliked or despised, few could be more re to a school, a situation in which he suffered served than he; but when he was warmed extreme annoyance. Then follows a conin discourse, and got over a hesitating man nection with a periodical review. In this ner, which sometimes he was subject to, it situation he had to write daily from nine was rapture to hear him ; his meagre vi- o'clock until two, and often throughout sage seemed insensibly to gather beauty ; | the day; whether in the vein or not, and every muscle in it had meaning, and his on subjects dictated by his task-master eye beamed with unusual brightness. The however foreign to his taste; he and his
erson who writes this memoir," continues employer, however, very soon quarrelled; he, “ remembers to have seen him in a se- and being now known in the publishing lect company of wits, of both sexes, at world, Goldsmith began to find casual emParis, when the subject happened to turn ployment in various quarters ; among upon English taste and learning. Fonte- others, he wrote occasionally for the Litenelle, (then nearly a hundred years old,) rary Magazine, a periodical conducted by who was of the party, and who, being unac Mr. John Newbury, a good natured genquainted with the language or authors of tleman famous for his children's books ; the country he undertook to condemn, of him Goldsmith says that he was not with a spirit truly vulgar, began to revile only the friend of children but the friend both. Diderot, who liked the English, of all mankind. and knew something of their literary pre Besides his literary job-work, Goldtensions, attempted to vindicate their po- smith now also attempted medical practice etry and learning, but with unequal without success. His experience with abilities. The company quickly perceived booksellers drew from him, in various parts that Fontenelle was superior in the dis- of his works, several severe strictures pute : and they were surprised at the silence upon that class of dealers. In his enquiry which Voltaire had preserved, all the for into the state of polite literature, he says, mer part of the night, particularly as the “ The author, unpatronized by the great,
has naturally recourse to the bookseller. To ask for the patronage of the great, There cannot, perhaps, be a combination which poor Goldsmith scorned as much as more prejudicial to taste than this; it is he pretended to admire it, has become the interest of the one to allow as little for in our day, a point of ridicule against an the writing, and for the other to write as author. He cannot venture to look for pamuch as possible ;, accordingly, tedious tronage to those substitutes for the great, compilations and periodical magazines are in these democratic times, namely, the the result of their joint endeavors : In rich; who for the most part have neither these circumstances, the author bids adieu leisure nor inclination to extend attentions to fame; writes for bread; and for that to the struggling tribe of authors. They imagination is seldom called in; he have their revenge. The society which sits down to address the muse with the despises them they labor to destroy; and most phlegmatic apathy, and, as we are wish to substitute for it, a society of told of the Russian, courts his mistress by their own imagination. Authors and falling asleep in her lap."
editors, poor as they are, are pulling monOf the author, Goldsmith adds that he archs from their thrones, and, by a steady is a child of the public in all respects. and well-directed fire of ridicule, have “ His simplicity exposes him to all the in- torn away the prestige of aristocracy. The siduous approaches of cunning; his sensi- day is coming fast, when the literary and bility to the slightest invasions of contempt. the political character, will become coinThough possessed of fortitude to stand un- cident, as they were in the old time. moved the expected burst of an earth The most interesting passage of Goldquake, yet of feelings so exquisitely poig- smith's life began with his acquaintance nant, as to agonize under the slightest dis- with Dr. Johnson, and through him, with appointment. Broken rest, tasteless meals, Burke, Garrick, and Reynolds. and causeless anxieties, shorten life, and Mr. Irving, with his usual good nature, has ender it unfit for active employments; rescued Goldsmith from the appearance of an prolonged vigils and intense application, ignominious dependence upon Dr. Johnson, still farther contract his span, and make and has given him altogether a much more his time glide insensibly away.”
dignified social position than any other of his The story of the author's wrongs and biographers have done. misery, in our day, does not much differ The conversation of Dr. Johnson," from that of his predecessors. If years of says Dr. Percy, “is strong and clear, and unrequited labor have worn out his consti may be compared to an antique statue, tution and his hopes, his is not always the where every vein and muscle is distinct gratification of thinking that others shall and clear.” “Such,” says Mr. Irving, reap the benefit after him. Perhaps, as “was the colloquial giant with which Goldfrequently happens, his manuscripts lie upon smith's celebrity, and his habits of intimathe shelf for want of a publisher; the la- cy, brought him into continual comparison; bor of twenty years may be thrown away conversation, grave, discursive, and dispuin á moment; or perhaps, through some tatious, such as Johnson excelled and destiffness or pedantry of manners, contract lighted in, was to him a severe task; and ed through the severity of toil, and the he never was good at a task of any kind," workings of anxiety upon an over-tasked (a remark, by the by, which it is hardly frame, he fails to make friends, and to in- fair to make of a man who accomplished spire confidence ; perhaps as a periodical so many wearisome literary jobs as were writer, instead of leading, he must follow finished, and elegantly finished too, by the public taste; every action of his life Goldsmith). “He had not, like Johnson for the actions of an author are his wri a vast fund of acquired facts to draw upon; tings, must belie his conscience: if, by nor a retentive memory to furnish them throwing himself out boldly upon the forth when wanted. He could not, like world, he acquires notoriety, he is at once the great lexicographer, mould his ideas, surrounded by false friends and subtle en and balance his period while talking. He emies, who seek, in every way, to make had a flow of ideas, but it was apt to be their advantage out of his inexperience and hurried and confused; and, as he said of credulity.
himself, he had contracted a hesitating and
disagreeable manner of speaking. He on, without knowing how he is to get off. used to say that he always argued best His genius is great, but his knowledge is when he argued alone; that is to say, he small; as they say of a generous man, it is could master a subject in his study with a pity he is not rich, we may say of Goldhis pen in his hand; but when he came smith, it is a pity he is not knowing. He into company he grew confused, and was would not keep his knowledge to himself;' unable to talk about it. Johnson made a and on another occasion he observes, remark concerning him to somewhat of the Goldsmith, rather than not talk, will talk same purport : “no man,” said he,“ is of what he knows himself to be ignorant, more foolish than Goldsmith when he has which can only end in exposing him ; if not a pen in his hand, or more wise when in company with two founders, he would he has.” A remark, under favor, more fall a talking on the method of making foolish than any recorded of Gold- cannon; though both of them would soon smith himself; that is to say, if it be ad see that he did not know what metal a canmitted a folly to sacrifice the entire merit non is made of;' and again : 'Goldsmith and substance of a remark to an antithetical should not be forever attempting to shine point; nor is there, to speak with exact- in conversation ; he has not temper for it, ness, any remark recorded of Goldsmith in he is so much mortified when he fails. Sir, his conversations to which, however simple, a game of jokes is composed partly of the charge of folly can be applied. If the skill
, partly of chance; a man may be innocent confidence with which he betray- beat, at times, by one who has not the ed the secret movements of his heart, is to tenth part of his wit. Now Goldsmith, be called folly, then indeed Goldsmith was putting himself against another, is like a a fool; but it is necessary to be careful, be man laying a hundred to one, who cannot fore applying this term to any man, to know spare the hundred; it is not worth a man's what is meant by folly and a fool'; for it is while; a man should not lay a hundred to easy to suffer such remarks to pass as seem to one, unless he can easily spare it, though imply wisdom in ourselves, when they real- he has a hundred chances for him; he can ly imply malignity and conceit. Dr. John- get but a guinea, and he may lose a son had the reputation of wisdom in con- hundred. Goldsmith is in this state; when versation ;
may be said of him, he contends, if he gets the better, it is a in his own manner, that his ambition of very little addition to a man of his literary shining, carried him in advance of truth; reputation ; if he does not get the better, and that he was never less wise than when he is miserably vexed.?” he made his wisest remarks. Aiming to These remarks of Dr. Johnson, predominate, he domineered; aiming to upon his conversational antagonist and convince, he frightened his auditors; and friend, if they have any meaning at all, instead of opening the book of knowledge apply as thoroughly to himself as to Dr. to their understandings, he hurled it at Goldsmith, with the single exception of the their heads.
difference of their knowledge. If conver“ Yet with all this conscious deficiency,” sation in jest is composed partly of skill says Mr. Irving, “Goldsmith was contin- and partly of chance, then the Doctor was ually getting involved in colloquial contests himself liable to fail in it; and it was with with Johnson, and other prime talkers of him as with Goldsmith ; that when he did the literary circle. He felt that he had not get the better he was miserably vexed, become a 'notoriety; that he had entered and what was worse, he usually fell to abuthe lists, and was expected to make fight; sing his antagonist ; and when he did get the so, with that heedlessness which character- better, it was but a small addition to his repized him in every thing else, he dashed on utation ; so that Goldsmith might have said at a venture ; trusting to chance in this, of Dr. Johnson, that he ought not forever to as in other things, and hoping occasionally have been attempting to shine in conversato make a lucky hit. Johnson perceived tion; that he had not the temper for it, but his hap-hazard temerity, but gave him no when he failed, fell into a passion with his credit for the real diffidence which lay at antagonist. bottom. "The misfortune of Goldsmith As for his remark that Goldsmith, rather in conversation,' said he, “is this; he goes | than not talk, would expose his ignorance, VOL. IV.
it was only to say that he did not talk | stance,' said he, the fable of the little for the reputation of knowledge, but rather fishes who saw birds fly over their heads, of sociality, wit and humor; and nothing and, envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be could have been more intense than the con- changed into birds; the skill consists in trast of motives between himself and Dr. making them talk like fish.' Just then Johnson. The Doctor, filled with facts observing that Dr. Johnson was shaking and definitions, and delighting in them for his sides and laughing, he immediately adtheir own sake, talked with the precision ded, why Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy of a lexicographer; and with as evident as you seem to think; for if you were to an intention of displaying his minute ac make little fishes talk, they would talk like quirements, as of overawing and terrifying whales ?' his antagonist; his remarks were seldom “Goldsmith, in conversation, shone most sound, though almost always antithetical when he least thought of shining; when he and witty. Goldsmith, on the other hand, gave up all effort to appear wise and learnentered into conversation from a feeling of ed, or to cope with the oracular sentensociality, and with a desire, not to set off tiousness of Johnson, and gave way to his the extent of his knowledge, but to show natural impulses. Many a man delighted the sweetness and bon hommie of his in these outpourings of a fertile fancy and a sentiments; but the instant he became en generous heart; in his happy moods, Goldtangled in the machinery of the Doctor's smith had an artless simplicity and buoyant antithetical fulling mill, he lost his self- good humor, that led to a thousand amuspossession and suffered his ideas to be bro- ing blunders and whimsical confessions, ken up; as a natural consequence he lost his much to the entertainment of his intimates; temper, but did not, like his antagonist, fall yet in his most thoughtless garrulity, there to abusing those about him in consequence. was occasionally the gleam of the gold and
In the regions of pure imagination he the flash of the diamond.” could soar with unruffled pinions, and strike Among the most agreeable passages in the fluttering folly as it passed with uner Goldsmith's works, are
his humorous ring talons; but with his wings clipped, and sketches of the London clubs, of which he set in the conversational cock-pit, to kick seems, at various periods of his life, to and scuffle, to strike and parry, amid a war have been a constant frequenter.
One of of syllogisms and contradictions, he made these was a shilling whist club, which held a sorry and a miserable figure.
its meetings at the Devil Tavern, near “ The great lexicographer,” says Mr. Temple Bar: the company was of a familIrving, “spoiled by the homage of society, iar, unceremonious kind, delighting in that was still more prone than Goldsmith, to very questionable wit, which consist in playlose temper when the argument went against ing off practical jokes upon each other: him: he could not brook appearing to be another was a comical club, somewhat in worsted; but would attempt to bear down the style of the “Three Jolly Pigeons. his adversary by the rolling thunder of his Songs, jokes, dramatic imitations, burperiods, and, when that failed, would be lesque parodies, and broad sallies of humor," come downright insulting. There is no says Mr. Irving, “formed a contrast to the arguing with Johnson,' said Goldsmith, sententious morality, pedantic casuistry, and ' for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks polished sarcasm of the learned circle : you down with the butt-end of it." » Here a huge tun of man, by the name of
“In several of the intellectual collisions Gordon, used to delight Goldsmith, by recorded by Boswell, as triumphs of Dr. singing the jovial song of Nottingham ale, Johnson,” says Mr. Írving, “it really ap- and looking like a butt of it: here, too, a pears to us that Goldsmith had the best, wealthy pig butcher, charmed no doubt by both of the wit and the argument; and the mild philanthropy of The Traveller, especially of the courtesy and good nature. aspired to be on the most sociable footing On one occasion he certainly gave Johnson with the author; and here was Tom King, a capital reproof, as to his own colloquial the comedian, recently risen to consepeculiarities. Talking of fables, Goldsmith quence by his performance of Lord Ogleby, observed that the animals introduced in in the new comedy of the Clandestine Marthem seldom talked in character ; 'for in- | riage.”
Here, too, was Hugh Kelly, a persecu- "He endeavored,” says Mr. Irving, “ to tor and a critic of Goldsmith; and in this hide his mortification, and even to assume club were found his hangers on and admi- an air of unconcern while among his assorers; though from the anecdotes transmit- / ciates ; but the moment he was alone with ted to us, we do not discover that even Dr. Johnson, in whose rough, but magnanhere, however much admired, he either imous nature, he reposed unlimited confipredominated or dogmatized; on the con- dence, he threw off all restraint, and gave trary, the footing of his intercourse was way to an almost child-like burst of grief. thoroughly social and democratic. Johnson, who had shown no want of sym
The production of his play, “The Good pathy at the proper time, saw nothing in Natured Man,” in which the variety and the partial disappointment of over-rated excellence of the humor, and the grace and expectations, to warrant such ungoverned truthfulness of the characters have fully emotions, and rebuked him sternly for what established for the author a title to dra- he termed a silly affectation; saying that, matic reputation, as it was one of the most No man should be expected to sympathize exciting events of his life, is one also of with the sorrows of vanity."" the most interesting to his biographer, as it Soon after, however, he entertained a enlarged his circle of society, and gave him, company at which Dr. Johnson was presin addition to his former notoriety, a very ent, with a particular and comic account of superior and desirable reputation. The all his feeling, both during and after the production of a good comedy, in which the presentation of the piece. manners of well-bred and high-minded per- “How he went, he said, to the sons are set forth, together with the faults literary club, after the failure of the and foibles of their class, entitles its au- piece; chatted gaily, as if nothing had thor to a superior place in the society which gone amiss, and, to give a greater idea he describes; and by the production of the of his unconcern, sung a favorite comic good natured man, Goldsmith won it for song; "all this while," he adds, 'I was sufhimself, beyond the reach of envy. He fering horrid tortures, and was excessively had now become a literary lion : he was ill
but they never perceived my the associate of Johnson, Burke, Garrick, not eating, nor suspected the anguish of my and other members of the famous literary heart: but when all were gone except club.
Johnson, I burst out crying, and even And now ensued a partial reconciliation swore that I would never write again."" with Garrick, with whom he had long ago Johnson was amazed at Goldsmith's simfallen into a coldness, through a literary plicity. pique. Through the intervention of friends, “ All this, Doctor,” said he, rather drily, the play-writer and the actor were brought “ I thought had been a secret between you together, with much ceremony, by the and me; and I am sure I would not have friends of Goldsmith, in order that the said anything about it for the world.” “Good Natured Man" might be properly The anecdote discovers, more than any brought forward upon the stage. Gold- other that is related of Goldsmith, the pesmith would make no sacrifice of honor to culiar genius, as well as faults of his mind his interest; and Garrick acted with his not only as a man but an author ; but usual coquetry: the consequence was a we have always felt it a defect in his charvery serious delay, during which the author, acters that we are continually put in pain for his daily support, undertook several lit- for their dignity. The exposure of their erary jobs.
foibles is too unreserved, and proceeds He now wrote his History of Rome, too often from a deficiency in real strength; which is still read by young persons, while, in the eccentricities of a Don Quix-. though, perhaps, with little profit
. When otte, and the oddities of a Sancho Panza, at length the piece was brought upon the there is a reserve in the one of gentlemanly stage, with a prologue by Johnson, it came pride, and in the other of practical sense, within a little of failing utterly at the first against which their follies are relieved, and presentation. Poor Goldsmith, it is said, a certain respect for them supported in the left the theatre with his towering hopes reader ; while in the comedies of Shakscompletely cut down.
peare and of Moliere, and we may add, in