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Auld claes. Old clothes. 44 Amaist. Almost. 47
Younkers. Youngsters. 48 Eydent. Diligent. 49 Jauk. Dally, trifle. 51 Duty. Prayer. 56 Wha kens. Who knows. 58 Convoy. Accompany. 62 Hafflins. Partly, in a half and-half manner. 67 Cracks. Converses. 69 Blate. Modest. 69 Laithfa'. Bashful. 71 Soe, So.
72 Love. The others. The meaning is that she is pleased to think that her daughter has a respectable lover like her neighbors.
88 Ruth. Pity, tenderness, from rue.
93 Sowpe. A small quantity of any liquid, a common expression in Scotland for a little of anything; as, a sowpe of milk, meaning a little milk. 93
Hawkie. A cow; properly one with a white face. 94
'Yont. Beyond. 94
Hallan. A partition between the door of a cottage and the fireplace. 95 Complimental mood. In a frame of mind expressive of regard. 06 Grace. Honor. 96 Weel hain'd. Carefully preserved. 96 Kebbuck. Cheese.
99 How 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell. How 'twas a twelve-month old, since flax was in the bloom.
103 Ha' Bible. The large Bible. This Bible lay in the ha' or chief room in the house.
121 Amalek's ungracious progeny. The Amalekites, the supposed descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau, the brother of Jacob. They were signally defeated in a contest with the children of Israel at Rephidim, near the western arm of the Red Sea. 133
Patmos. An island in the Ægean Sea, distinguished as the place to which John the Evangelist was banished by Domitian, A. D. 94.
149 Incensed. Enraged.
182 Wallace. Sir William, Scotland's national hero, having slain the son of the English sheriff of Dundee, had to flee to the woods and was outlawed. He gathered together a number of followers, and drove the English out of Aberdeon, Forfar, Brechin, and elsewhere, and in 1297 defeated them in the Battle of Stirling Bridge, thus, liberating his country for a time. He was then appointed guardian of the country during the captivity of Baliol. He entered England, and ravaged Durham. Edward I. hastened home from Flanders and marched against Wallace, who was defeated. He then carried on a sort of guerilla warfare against the English, until he was betrayed, and executed in London in 1305. Born near Paisley, about 1270.
Oliver Goldsmith, perhaps the most beloved of English writers, and next to Dr. Johnson, the best known literary figure in the last half of the eighteenth century, was born in Pallas, Ireland, November 10, 1728.
His family was of Saxon origin, having moved to Ireland some generations before. His father was Charles Goldsmith, who made a scanty living for himself and family from the income of a small curacy and by operating a little farm. Not only was Oliver's father a clergyman, but his grandfather and great-grandfather had likewise been in the church. His mother, Ann Jones, was also of clerical family, so that Oliver Goldsmith had back of him a ministerial record almost equal to that of our own Emerson. Little, however, of the formal grace of his sedate ancestry sat upon the wayward scion, but within his bosom there beat a heart which concentrated within itself all the pity, tenderness, and generosity which had dominated three generations of clergymen.
Oliver was the fifth of eight children born to the humble rector, and the one destined to make the name of Goldsmith revered by all readers of Eng. glish classics. When the child was two years old, the family removed from Pallas to a more lucrative living at Lissoy or Sissoy, in the county Meath.
Someone said that Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late and this expression seems exactly to meet the case, for all of his early instructors, however devoted they were to the child, bear testimony that “there never was so dull a boy" “a stupid, heavy blockhead."
A relative taught him his letters. Then came his tuition under Paddy Byrne, a broken down old soldier, who, if his methods were un pedagogical, yet was a famous story teller of the true Irish type. We can imagine the master's school often resting from the tedium of study and listening breathless to tales of ghosts and banshees and bloody battlefields. On the mind of little Oliver, at least, they were indelibly stamped. Of a similar nature was the influence of Peggy Golden, his father's dairymaid, who entertained the child by singing old ballads. In the same list we ought to place the wandering minstrel who was often warmed beside the good rector's fireside and gave, in recompense, his best songs, sung to the accompaniment of the harp.
At the age of fifteen Goldsmith had the laughable experience which he has embodied in his comedy, She Stoops to Conquer. Having a guinea to spend, he determined to take a short trip. Finding himself belated in a small town near his destination, he hailed a passer-by and asked the way to the best house in town (meaning a hotel or inn, of course.) As a joke, he
was directed to a private house, where he conducted himself as one who pays for “his keep,” only to find in the morning that he had been duped. The story is amusing, but I tell it not alone for itself. The experience was typical of what was constantly befalling Goldsmith. There was that about him which seemed to invite ridicule and all his acquaintances took advantage of this to make him the butt of all sorts of jokes.
In this connection we ought to mention his appearance, which was ungainly in the extreme. To add to this, his face was deeply pitted from a severe attack of smallpox which ravaged Europe during his youth.
In 1749, he took the degree of B. A., and returned home to his widowed mother, his father having died while he was in college. Thus he was out of school at the age of twenty-one and it was evident to those most interested in him that he was no nearer settled in life than when he began his college course.
Then began that series of efforts to start in a profession which, though rather funny to us at this distance, must have been discouraging indeed to his friends. He went up to be ordained for the ministry, but he appeared in scarlet breeches and so the bishop would not ordain him. He was given a sufficient sum of money to bear his expenses to America, but the ship sailed away without him and he returned home penniless. His patient uncle Contarine next provided him with fifty pounds and started him off to London to study law, but he spent the money in gaming and again returned destitute to his friends without having seen London. Then they got together another purse and he set out for Edinburgh to study medicine. This time he reached his destination and joined the Medical Society of the Scotch University but, at the same time, he became the leader of the Irish students there in their pranks. After a year and a half he sailed for Leyden to perfect himself in medicine. After a short stay here, in which he made his way by teaching English to anyone who cared to learn, he left without a degree and set out on his travels on foot. With little means of subsistence except his flute and his aptness at composing ballads, he wandered through much of Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Italy, or, as he expressed it, “piped his way through Europe.”
On his return to England, however, his flute failed to charm and he was once more at his wits' end to know how to make a living.
At last he was driven to the drudgery of a hack writer for various periodicals. In his extremity he betook himself to an attic, on the edge of Fleet Ditch to which he climbed by means of Breakneck Steps.
The year 1763 was a memorable one in Goldsmith's life, for it was the year in which was formed the famous literary club which Reynolds suggested and of which Goldsmith was asked to become a member. Four names in the original membership of this club make it immortal, and make our hearts leap as we enumerate them. They are Dr. Johnson, whose heavy form stands ever as a bulwark of English manhood; Joshua Reynolds, the fine portrait painter, the first president of the Royal Academy; Burke, the magnanimous man, the inspired orator, and Oliver Goldsmith, the great heart of them all.
For the eleven remaining years of his life Goldsmith was the best beloved of this coterie. Its meetings were quite incomplete unless the gentle, blundering “Goldy,” or “Noll,” as they loved to call him, was present, and when he died, they mourned him truly. Burke, when informed of his death, cried like a child, and Reynolds, who never could be induced to stop his painting, closed up his studio for a day and did nothing but grieve for the loss of his dear friend.
About the time this club was formed, Goldsmith, being in more prosperous circumstances, moved into rooms in the Inns of Court, in the vicinity of the Temple, which Charles Lamb has immortalized.
Though Goldsmith's income had increased, he was often beset by creditors.
One day Dr. Johnson received a message from Goldsmith asking him to come to him at once as he (Goldsmith) could not go to Johnson. The good doctor, suspecting the nature of his friend's trouble, sent him a guinea, saying that he would come himself shortly. When Johnson appeared he found Goldsmith the prisoner of his landlady, who insisted on having her rent, which had long been over due. The guinea he had sent had been broken and a bottle of Madeira stood opened on the table. Johnson approached the table and, putting in the stopper, he began to question Goldsmith as to his resources. The latter said that he had a novel completed, and he produced the manuscript of Vicar of Wakefield. Johnson saw at once that there were good things in it, and undertook to find a market for it. After reading it he disposed of it for sixty pounds, but the publisher who bought it had so little confidence in it that he delayed its publication until after The Traveller appeared, in 1764. The success of this poem made the public hungry for more of Goldsmith's work and so the prudent publisher to whom the mansucript of Vicar of Wakefield had been sold published it in 1766. Thus, in an accidental way, the best beloved of English classics found its way into the world of readers.
Goldsmith's success was now fully established and his work brought in a goodly competency, but our writer, much as we love him and dear to us as are his works, was improvident and, though we dislike to say so, it is quite probable that no income, however ample, could have kept pace with the settled habits of a spendthrift and the benefactor of a large class of hangers-on who knew his business better than he did himself. Goldsmith thus continued to be troubled by his debts, which he always seemed quite willing to pay when he had the money, but he died a debt-burdened
In March of 1774, Goldsmith was attacked by a slow fever and on the fourth of April he died. It was a motley crowd that gathered to do the last honors to the genial man of letters. Beside the most honored figures of the time were men in shabby coats and with marks of unsuccessful struggle on their countenances men that had been helped by Goldsmith. There was another class of persons who shrank from contact with the upright who, in their sin, had sought relief and found it in the heart and hand of Goldssmith. It was the suppressed crying of such that filled in the pa uses of
the noble church service said above the dead form of him who had no family save the wretched of earth that he could help, and no earthly home save the “narrow house” now about to close upon him forever. He was buried in the court of the Temple near where he had spent his last years, and to any pilgrim to that quiet place in the midst of London's roar, that raised mound in the green turf which marks the resting place of Oliver Goldsmith is the most precious relic that the Temple can show.
The Literary Club placed a monument in memory of him in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, and Dr. Johnson wrote a lengthy inscription in Latin to tell of his friend's worth. A part of it translated runs thus: “Of Oliver Goldsmith a poet, naturalist and historian, who left scarcely any style of writing untouched, and touched nothing that he did not adorn.”
THE DESERTED VILLAGE
This poem, which took Goldsmith about two years to write, was published on May 26, 1770, the year also of Wordsworth's birth. It was immensely successful, going through six editions in its first year of publication. It is essentially a didactic poem, i. e., a poem written with a purpose, to teach mankind some useful lesson. Goldsmith's aim was to show that the accumulation of wealth was the parent of all evils, including depopulation. We know now this to be faulty poltical economy.
But it is not the didactic side of the poem that makes its excellence. It is when Goldsmith forgets to teach, as, happily, he often does, and describes for us the charms of simple village life that we recognize his greatness as a poet. So sweetly and naturally does he do it, that he ranks as one of the best of our descriptive poets.
The poem was dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds. “The only dedication,” writes Goldsmith, “I ever made was to my brother, because I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this poem to you.”
Some have thought that the scene of the poem was the Irish village of Lissoy. But “Auburn” is distinctly an English village, and doubtless Goldsmith mingled his recollections of both countries. Indeed, he told Reynolds four or five years before the poem was published that he had made excursions into the country in several parts of England to satisfy himself of the truth of his complaint of the decay and depopulation of villages. “I remember it in my own country and have seen it in this."
[A picture of the village in the days of its prosperity.]