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light which moves our mirth and our pity, or ill-judged, than these distinctions which while at the same time it reminds us of attached the idea of degradation to poverty, something better in the man. It was a re- and placed the indigent youth of merit bemark of Goethe's, that there was no fault or low the worthless minion of fortune. foible of human nature which he could not “ It was with the utmost repugnance
that feel compassion for, through his own experi- Godsmith entered college in this capacity. ence, (that perhaps was his meaning, though His shy and sensitive nature was affected not his language,) and in this great and gen- by the inferior station he was to hold erous writer the sign of immortality is legi- among his gay and opulent fellow students, ble in the dignity and compassion with and he became, at times, moody and dewhich he handles his inferior persons, both spondent. A recollection of these early in drama and in story.
misfortunes induced him in after years, We believe we are justified therefore in most strongly to dissuade his brother ascribing the traits of immortality to the Henry, the clergyman, from sending his admirable writers whom we have grouped son to college on the like footing. If together above, observing with what an ex- he has ambition,' wrote Goldsmith, strong quisite art they rescue human nature from passions, and an exquisite sensibility of conits meanest weaknesses, and teach us to tempt, do not send him there unless you love and even to respect the person whom have no other trade for him except your they seem at the instant to be describing own.'" in colors of ridicule.
The system of menial scholarship, derived There is nothing remarkable in the early from the ancient monastic institutions, and life of Goldsmith, beyond the incidents perpetuated in the British Universities, was which often follow the career of a good na- early introduced into this country. The tured and thoughtless man of humor and scholar, named in our institutions, a charity talent.
student, or sometimes, though improperly, The anecdotes of his early, life are a beneficiary—a benefit being a very diffamiliar to every reader. In college he ferent thing from a charity studentship, in committed no great faults; his errors were more senses than one-is sometimes rethose of thoughtlessness. His situation at quired to perform the menial service of the the University was severely trying to his college, to ring bells, to make fires, to pride. His father, a poor country clergyman, sweep out recitation rooms, and in various of Pallasmore, in the county of Longford, in ways to make himself useful to the tutor. Ireland, was obliged to enter him as a sizer, He is too frequently looked upon by the or poor scholar, to be taught and boarded less considerate portion of the faculty, in gratuitously, and paying but a very small virtue of his position, as a dependent, as sum for his room. It is expected, in re- one whose duty it is to be a spy upon the turn for these advantages, which, in gen- conduct of his fellow students, and, if queseral, prove to be the most serious disad- tioned, an informer against them. He is vantages which the student can encounter, usually a dull, but a diligent scholar, and that while he sustains the dignity of schol- endeavors to make up in industry and aparship, and the manners of a gentleman, plication what he lacks in respectability that he will perform the duties of a menial and credit. He is consequently odious, in
-a situation to be filled successfully and a variety of senses, to his more liberal and honorably by no character under the rank fortunate fellows. His destiny is usually the of a hero or a saint; in neither of which church; and it is sometimes expected of him, we are at liberty to place poor Goldsmith. if he does not become a clergyman, or a mis
“He was obliged,” says Mr. Irving, his sionary, that he will refund the money that biographer, “to sweep part of the courts in has been advanced for his education. He the morning, to carry up dishes from the must be “hopefully pious," which by most kitchen to the fellows' table, and to wait creeds, is a condition, in which the power in the hall, until that body had dined. of God and the Holy Spirit alone can place His very dress marked the inferiority of him; and as an open testimony and proof the poor student to his happier class of this secret relationship with his Creator, mates.
he is expected to give a punctual attend“We can conceive nothing more odious ance upon all the services of the church. Thus pressed, on all sides, by the hardest was that he sank into despondency, and to conditions which could be invented by the conceal from himself the agonies of his tempter of mankind, in his most subtle and mind, he committed several excesses, and ingenious moods ; required to practice, violated the college rules. However, on simultaneously, the manners of leisure, and the 27th of February, 1749, 0. S., he the duties of servitude; to exercise the graduated a Bachelor of Arts. virtue of a monk, and receive contempt “He was free," says his biographer, instead of veneration for his reward; to be, “from college rule, that emancipation so at the same time, exercising a free and hope- ardently coveted by the thoughtless stuful piety, under the condition that if he dent, and which too generally launches him ceases to do
he has $500 to pay; com- amid the cares, the hardships and vicissipelled to associate with, and to be, to all tudes of life.” intents and purposes, on a social level with It is from Mr. Irving, the successful authose below whom he is effectually degra- thor, that we have the above observation ; ded—for notwithstanding liberty and equal what then shall be said of college life ity, there is such a thing as degradation, by the unsuccessful author, struggling is it wonderful, under such trials, that the through a life of unremunerated and unadcharity student turns out either a hero or mired literary labor ? a sneak? A man hardened to the endu- “ Edmund Burke was a fellow-student rance and fortitude of martyrdom, or beaten, with Goldsmith at the college : neither the pecked, and maimed, like a quail among statesman nor the poet gave promise of cocks, every grain of spirit and humanity their future celebrity; though Burke cerbeaten out of him, to take refuge hence- tainly surpassed his contemporary in indusforth under the aprons of lady-patron- try and application ; and evinced more disesses ?
position for self-improvement, associating And what need for such a system? | himself with a number of his fellow stuWhy, for the few hundred dollars, saved dents in a debating club, in which they in monkish parsimony, should the generous discussed literary topics, and exercised spirit of the scholar, who, of all men, must themselves in composition.” We have work with a free mind and an untroubled heard it remarked by a gentleman, who spirit, be so broken and trampled on? was a contemporary of our famous defendOr, if the church herself be a cure, and er of the wrong, Johň C. Calhoun, that in the spirit of a true conservatism, we re- he evinced in college the traits that have gard the ministry of Christ as the sole attended him through life. It is said of moral
power that is left to us in the repub- | him, that in debate, he was, even then, as lic, as the hope and refuge of an age dark- if too conscious of great abilities, fond of ened by revolutions, why should considera- undertaking the defence of the weaker tions of parsimony, or of a merely mercan- side ; perhaps in morals, as in war, it is a tile character--as, that money should be paid crime to defend an untenable post. in labor,—why should such considerations Goldsmith applied for orders, but was reprevent still higher ones from affecting us, jected, says his biographer, by the Bishop --as, that possibly, since the church is em- of Elfin, because of his whimsical partialibodied in the ministry, if the liberty and ty for gay clothes.
“ He had ever a passpirit of the ministry is broken and made a sion for clothing his sturdy but awkward scorn and a slave before the rich, the influ- little person in gay colors; and on this solence of the church, and her respectability emn occasion, when it was supposed his garb will be thereby diminished.
would be of suitable gravity, he appeared Let the charity scholarship be then uncon- luminously arrayed in scarlet breeches." ditioned and independent: let it not, ever, be He was rejected by the Bishop. attached to the scholar as a liability, but scarlet breeches are said to have been the come to him, like an hereditament, to fundamental objection to his taking orders. which, while he enjoys it, his right is abso- A black suit, and a demure countenance lute.
went against his conscience, perhaps, as an A natural consequence of Goldsmith's inconsistency; for through the whole of poverty, and of the tyranny of his tutor, his career, his honesty and his oddity were which is spoken of by all his biographers, of a piece with each other. It sometimes 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.