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The appearance of “Retaliation ” brought about a number of ex post facto epitaphs, most of which, in all probability, their writers would have been pleased to pass off as the original productions to which Goldsmith had been invited to reply. Garrick, who wrote the best of these (“Here, Hermes ! says Jove, who with nectar was mellow”), at one time meditated their publication; but his intention was never carried out, and, as already stated, Goldsmith's death took place before “Retaliation was given to the world. Still working at that poem, and still planning fresh compilations which were to enable him to cope with his difficulties, he had gone again to his Edgeware home, when a sharp attack of a local disorder, induced by his sedentary habits, obliged him to seek medical advice in town. To London he accordingly returned in the middle of March. He saw a doctor, and obtained relief. But low fever supervened, and on the 25th (one of the club Fridays) he took to his bed. At eleven at night he sent for a surgeon-apothecary in the Strand named Hawes,' who found him extremely ill, but bent upon curing himself by Dr. James's Fever Powders, a patent medicine upon which he had been accustomed to rely. Hawes did not think it suited to his condition, which was more nervous than febrile, and
William Hawes, who afterwards wrote “ An Account of the late Dr. Goldsmith's Illness, etc.," was the grandfather of Sir Benjamin Hawes, once Under-Secretary at War. He undertook the active management of Goldsmith's affairs pending the arrival of his relatives from Ireland, and arranged the sale of the books, &c. Goldsmith's writing-desk, which belonged to Hawes, is now in the South Kensington Museum.
endeavoured to induce him to try other remedies. Failing in this, he persuaded him to send for a physician, Dr. Fordyce, who confirmed his view of the case. Goldsmith, however, still clung obstinately to James's nostrum, and rejected the medicine prescribed by Dr Fordyce. After taking the powder he became worse, and was obliged to resign himself to the advice of those about him. Becoming exceedingly weak and sleepless, he lingered for a week longer in a state that caused the gravest anticipations, although he was conscious, and sometimes (it is said) even cheerful. Dr. Turton, a second physician who had been called in, remarking the disorder of his pulse, asked if his mind was at ease. “No, it is not,” was the reply. These were the last words he spoke. On the morning of Monday, the 4th of April, 1774, after a long-hoped-for sleep, he died in strong convulsions, having lived forty-five years and five months. The announcement of his death came like a shock upon his friends. Burke burst into tears; Sir Joshua laid aside his pencil for the day ; and a deeper gloom settled upon Johnson. At Brick Court other, and humbler mourners, to whom he had been kind, filled the little staircase with their sorrow; and, as he lay in his coffin, a lock of his hair was cut from his head for the “Jessamy Bride” and her sister. On Saturday the 9th, after some discussion as to a public funeral, which was abandoned on account of the state of his affairs, he was buried quietly in the burying-ground of the Temple . Church, none weeping more profusely over his grave than his old rival, Hugh Kelly. Two years later, a
* It is still in the possession of Mrs. Gwyn's descendants.
monument, with a medallion portrait by Nollekens, and an epitaph by Johnson, the story of which must be read in Boswell, was erected to him in Westminster Abbey at the expense of the Literary Club. Johnson's Latin-for he refused to “disgrace
disgrace ” that time-honoured fane by English, ran as follows:
ingenio sublimis, vividus, versatilis ;
in loco cui nomen Pallas
Nov. xxix. MDCCXXXI.
1 Croker translates this as follows:-“Of Oliver Goldsmith-a Poet, Naturalist, and Historian, who left scarcely any style of writing untouched, and touched nothing that he did not adorn ; of all the passions, whether smiles were to be moved or tears, a powerful yet gentle master; in genius, sublime, vivid, versatile ; in style, elevated, clear, elegant—the love of Companions, the fidelity of Friends, and the veneration of Readers, have by this monument honoured the memory. He was born in Ireland, at a place called
The date of birth, it will be seen, is inaccurately given. Many years after this monument had been erected in Westminster, a tablet, now removed to the vestry, was put up in the Temple Church by the Benchers. But the exact spot where Oliver Goldsmith lies is not known, although a flat stone at the north side of the church marks it conjecturally, and is perhaps more piously visited by pilgrims than either of the other memorials. In January, 1864, a full-length statue by Foley, the Academician, was placed in front of Dublin University."
Pallas [in the parish] of Forney, [and county] of Longford, on the 29th November, 1731. Educated at [the University of] Dublin, and died in London, 4th April, 1774."
1 “Retaliation” (see p. 179) was published on the 19th April, a fortnight after its author's death. In June followed “Animated Nature,” and in 1776 “ The Haunch of Venison,” to the second edition of which were added two songs from “The Captivity,” an oratorio written in 1764, but not published as a whole until 1820.
OMETHING of Goldsmith's personal appearance
will already have been gathered from the foregoing pages, and more particularly from the letter to his brother quoted at the beginning of chapter iv. He was short and stoutly built. His complexion was pale or sallow, and he was deeply scarred by the smallpox. His scant hair was brown, his eyes gray or hazel, and his forehead, which was rather low, projected in a way that is easily exaggerated in some of the copies of his portraits. Yet "his features ”—if we may trust one who knew him—though “plain," were “not repulsive,-certainly not so when
” lighted up by conversation." Another witness, Mrs. Gwyn, says that his countenance bore every trace of his unquestionable benevolence. His true likeness must probably be sought between the slightly grotesque sketch by his friend Bunbury, prefixed to the early editions of “The Haunch of Venison," and the portrait by Reynolds at Knole Park, of which there is a copy in the National Portrait Gallery. Mr. Forster is severe upon Bunbury's “caricature ;" but it should be remembered that “The Jessamy Bride” (who, even if prejudiced in favour of her brother-in-law's art, can scarcely be suspected of any