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however, I remained upon the field not wholly discomfited; and was soon rewarded by hearing some of his conversation.

Character of Goldsmith

(From Life of Johnson) As Dr. Oliver Goldsmith will frequently appear in this narrative, I shall endeavor to make my readers in some degree acquainted with his singular character. He was a native of Ireland, and a contemporary with Mr. Burke, at Trinity College, Dublin, but did not then give much promise of future 5 celebrity. He, however, observed to Mr. Malone, that "though he made no great figure in mathematics, which was a study in much repute there, he could turn an Ode of Horace into English better than any of them.” He afterwards studied physic at Edinburgh, and upon the Conti- 10 nent: and I have been informed, was enabled to pursue his travels on foot, partly by demanding at Universities to enter the lists as a disputant, by which, according to the custom of many of them, he was entitled to the premium of a crown, when luckily for him his challenge was not accepted; so 15 that, as I once observed to Dr. Johnson, he disputed his passage through Europe. He then came to England, and was employed successively in the capacities of an usher to an academy, a corrector of the press, a reviewer, and a writer for a newspaper. He had sagacity enough to cultivate assid-20 uously the acquaintance of Johnson, and his faculties were gradually enlarged by the contemplation of such a model. To me and many others it appeared that he studiously copied the manner of Johnson, though, indeed, upon a smaller scale.

At this time I think he had published nothing with his 25 name, though it was pretty generally known that one Dr. Goldsmith was the author of “An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe," and of "The Citizen


of the World,” a series of letters supposed to be written from 30 London by a Chinese. No man had the art of displaying

with more advantage as a writer, whatever literary acquisitions he made. Nihil quod tetigit non ornavit. His mind resembled a fertile but thin soil. There was a quick,

but not a strong vegetation, of whatever chanced to be thrown 35 upon it. No deep root could be struck. The oak of the

forest did not grow there; but the elegant shrubbery and the fragrant parterre appeared in gay succession. It has been generally circulated and believed that he was a mere fool in conversation; but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated.

He had, no doubt, a more than common share of that hurry of ideas which we often find in his countrymen, and which sometimes produces a laughable confusion in expressing them. He was very much what the French call un étourdi, and from

vanity and an eager desire of being conspicuous wherever he 45 was, he frequently talked carelessly without knowledge of the

subject, or even without thought. His person was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those

who were in any way distinguished, excited envy in him to 50 so ridiculous an excess, that the instances of it are hardly

credible. When accompanying two beautiful young ladies with their mother on a tour in France, he was seriously angry that more attention was paid to them than to him ;

and once at the exhibition of the Fantoccini in London, when 55 those who sat next him observed with what dexterity a

puppet was made to toss a pike, he could not bear that it should have such praise, and exclaimed with some warmth, “Pshaw! I can do it better myself.”

He, I am afraid, had no settled system of any sort, so that 60 his conduct must not be strictly scrutinized; but his affec

tions were social and generous, and when he had money he gave it away very liberally. His desire of imaginary consequence predominated over his attention to truth. When he began to rise into notice, he said he had a brother who was Dean of Durham, a fiction so easily detected, that it is 65 wonderful how he should have been so inconsiderate as to hazard it. He boasted to me at this time of the power of his pen in commanding money, which I believe was true in a certain degree, though in the instance he gave he was by no means correct. He told me that he had sold a novel for 70 four hundred pounds. This was his Vicar of Wakefield. But Johnson informed me, that he had made the bargain for Goldsmith, and the price was sixty pounds. “And, Sir (said he), a sufficient price too, when it was sold; for then the fame of Goldsmith had not been elevated, as it afterwards 75 was, by his Traveller; and the bookseller had such faint hopes of profit by his bargain, that he kept the manuscript by him a long time, and did not publish it till after the Traveller had appeared. Then, to be sure, it was accidentally worth more money.”

Mrs. Piozzi and Sir John Hawkins have strangely misstated the history of Goldsmith's situation and Johnson's friendly interference, when this novel was sold. I shall give it authentically from Johnson's own exact narration:

“I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith 85 that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his

power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, 90 at which he was in violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me 95 that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to

80 me.

I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold

it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and 100 he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in

a high tone for having used him so ill.”

Johnson's Manner of Talking

(From Life of Johnson) Let me here apologize for the imperfect manner in which I am obliged to exhibit Johnson's conversation at this period. In the early part of my acquaintance with him, I was so wrapt in admiration of his extraordinary colloquial talents, 5 and so little accustomed to his peculiar mode of expression,

that I found it extremely difficult to recollect and record his conversation with its genuine vigor and vivacity. In progress of time, when my mind was, as it were, strongly impreg

nated with the Johnsonian æther, I could with much more 10 facility and exactness, carry in my memory and commit

to paper the exuberant variety of his wisdom and wit.


The Village Preacher

(From The Deserted Village)
Sweet Auburn ! loveliest village of the plain;
Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed :
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene !
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,





The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighboring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade
For talking age and whispering lovers made !
How often have I blest the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labor free,

up their sports beneath the spreading tree,
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
And still, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired;
The dancing pair that simply sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village i sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught even toil to please :
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed :
These were thy charms — but all these charms are fled.





Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year ;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change his place;
Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More skilled to raise the wretched than to rise.


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