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CHAPTER IX.

“THE

HE Good Natur'd Man," we have seen, left

Goldsmith the richer by £500. With this sum, it may be thought, he should have rested upon his oars, or, at all events, have raised some provisional barrier against the inroads of necessity. As it was, not being by any means an exceptional member of society, he at once invested the greater part of it in purchasing the lease of fresh chambers. His old quarters, looked at by the light of his good fortune, had grown too narrow for his importance; and he consequently moved to a second floor at No. 2, Brick Court, Middle Temple, where he had a couple of “reasonably-sized old-fashioned rooms, with a third smaller room or sleeping closet.” Here he lived for the rest of his life. According to Cooke, the sum he paid for the lease was £400, and from the catalogue of the sale of his effects after his death, he must have laid out a good deal more in furnishing his new residence sumptuously. Wilton carpets, "morine festoon window-curtains compleat," Pembroke tables, “a very large dressing-glass," and his friend Sir Joshua's" Tragic Muse, in a gold frame,"—to say nothing of complete tea and card equipages—can have left but

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little unexpended of the balance that remained. The step thus taken was clearly not a wise one; and Goldsmith would have done better to respect the Nil te quæsiveris extra of Johnson. For he had not only to live in his new chambers; but he had also to live up to them; and here began, or was further perplexed, that tangled mesh of money difficulties from which he was hardly ever afterwards to shake himself free.

In the meantime he seems to have “hung his crane at Brick Court with all the honours. There are traditions of suppers and dinners and card parties, at which, to use the formula of Dr. Primrose, whatever the quality of the wit, there was assuredly plenty of laughter. Blackstone, who occupied the rooms immediately below, is said to have been disturbed in the preparation of his “Commentaries" by the sounds of hilarity overhead ; and his successor, a Mr. Children, also testified to similar manifestations of the festive spirit of his neighbour above stairs. The chief witness to these entertainments is an Irish gentleman named Seguin, who, about this date, made Goldsmith's acquaintance. The poet was godfather to Seguin's children, and his recollections, preserved by some of these, were long afterwards communicated to Prior by a member of the family, then living in Dublin. On one especially memorable occasion the Seguins dined with Goldsmith, in company with “Mr. and Mrs. Pollard, of Castle Pollard,” in order to meet Dr. Johnson. The guests had been duly warned by their host to talk only upon such subjects as they thoroughly understood, and on no account to interrupt the great man when he had once begun to discourse. With these precautions, added

he sang

to the favouring circumstance that “Ursa Major" chanced to be in an unusually good temper, the evening passed off pleasantly. Another memory represents Goldsmith as dancing a minuet with Mrs. Seguin, a performance which appears to have excited almost as much amusement as the historical hornpipe of his childhood. Now and then, it is related, he would sing Irish songs, and delight the company with his (and Peggy Golden's) old favourite, “The Cruelty of Barbara Allen.” Here his success was never doubtful, for, without being an accomplished vocalist,

with much natural taste and feeling. At other times, blind man's buff, forfeits, tricks with cards, and children's games (when there were children present), were the order of the day. “ He unbent without reserve,” says Prior, " to the level of whoever were his companions," and the anecdotes of this time are wholly consirmatory of his amiability, his love of fun, and his naturally cheerful disposition. His hospitality, as may be guessed, was in advance of his means. But it was noted that, however liberally he feasted his guests, his own habitual evening meal was boiled milk.

In May, 1768, his elder brother ended an unobtrusive life in his remote Irish home. Henry Goldsmith seems to have been the only member of the family to keep up a correspondence with his junior, whose kith and kin, by his account, must have neglected him grievously. believe I have written an hundred letters to different friends in your country,” he later tells his brother Maurice, “and never received an answer to any of them.” But for Henry he had attempted to obtain preferment from the Earl of Northumberland ; to Henry he had inscribed “The

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Traveller"; and to Henry he was to refer, with affectionate simplicity, in the “Dedication” of his next poem. Indeed, it is probable that the death of Henry Goldsmith, by turning his thoughts once more to the friends and home of his boyhood, stimulated the production of “The Deserted Village,” in which there are undoubted traces of both. And it is admitted that at this time he began to work upon the poem. William Cooke, the young law student who wrote recollections of him in The European Magazine, expressly testifies to this, and gives some interesting particulars as to his methods of composition. “Goldsmith,” he says, “though quick enough at prose, was rather slow in his poetry-not from the tardiness of fancy, but the time he took in pointing the sentiment and polishing the versification." His manner of writing poetry was this: he first sketched a part of his design in prose, in which he threw out his ideas as they occurred to him; he then sat carefully down to versify them, and add such other ideas as he thought better fitted to the subject. He sometimes would exceed his prose design by writing several verses impromptu, but these he would take uncommon pains afterwards to revise, lest they should be found unconnected with his main design. The writer of these memoirs called upon the Doctor the second morning after he had begun 'The Deserted Village,' and to him he communicated the plan

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* This is confirmed by others. His method, it is said, was to write his first thoughts in lines so far apart as to leave “ample room and verge enough” for copious interlineation. According to Percy, he so industriously filled these spaces with corrections that scarce a line of the original draught remained.

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of his poem. ... He then read what he had done of it that morning, beginning 'Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,'" and so on for ten lines. “Come,' says he, let me tell you, this is no bad morning's work; and now, my dear boy, if you are not better engaged, I should be glad to enjoy a Shoemaker's holiday with you.'”

Assuming that Cooke is to be taken literally, the first morning's work at “The Deserted Village” must have consisted of exactly four lines, since that of the second morning begins at line five of the poem as it stands at present. But the processes of poetry are not to be so exactly meted, and it is probable that Cooke is more to be depended upon in his account of what Goldsmith calls a “shoemaker's holiday," the fashion of which was as follows: "Three or four of his (Goldsmith's] intimate friends rendezvoused at his chambers to breakfast about ten o'clock in the morning ; at eleven they proceeded by the City Road and through the fields to Highbury Barn to dinner; about six o'clock in the evening they adjourned to White Conduit House to drink tea; and concluded the evening by supping at the Grecian or Temple Exchange Coffee-houses, or at the Globe in Fleet Street. There was a very good ordinary of two dishes and pastry kept at Highbury Barn about this time (five and twenty years agor) at iod. per head, including a penny to the waiter, and the company generally consisted of literary characters, a few Templars, and some citizens who had left off trade. The whole expenses of this day's fête never exceeded a crown, and oftener from three and sixpence to four shillings, for

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i Cooke wrote in 1793.

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