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a most amiable and worthy being. I can not refrain, however, from mentioning some of the motley retinue she has brought with her; and which, indeed, bespeak the overflowing kindness of her nature, which requires her to be surrounded with objects on which to lavish it.
In the first place, her ladyship has a pampered coachman, with a red face, and cheeks that hang down like dew-laps. He evidently domineers over her a little with respect to the fat horses; and only drives out when he thinks proper, and when he thinks it will be “good for the cattle.” She has a favorite page to attend upon
person, a handsome boy of about twelve years of age, but a mischievous varlet, very much spoiled, and in a fair way to be good for nothing. He is dressed in green, with a profusion of gold cord and gilt buttons about his clothes. She always has one or two attendants of the kind, who are replaced by others as soon as hey grow to fourteen years of age. She has brought two dogs with her also, out of a number of pets which she maintains at home. One is a fat spaniel, called Zephyr; though Heaven defend me from such a zephyr! He is fed out of all shape and comfort; his eyes are nearly strained out of his head; he wheezes with corpulency, and can not walk without great difficulty. The other is a little, old, gray, muzzled curmudgeon, with an unhappy eye, that kindles like a coal if you only look at him; his nose turns up; his mouth is drawn into wrinkles, so as to show his teeth: in short, he has altogether the look of a dog far gone in misanthropy, and totally sick of the world. When he walks, he has his tail curled up so tight, that it seems to lift his feet from the ground; and he seldom makes use of more than three legs at a time, keeping the other drawn up as a reserve.
This last wretch is called Beauty. These dogs are full of elegant ailments unknown to vulgar dogs, and are petted and nursed by Lady Lillycraft with the tenderest kindness. They are pampered and fed with delicacies by their fellow-minion, the page; but their stomachs are weak and out of order, so that they can not eat; though I have now and then seen the page give them a mischievous pinch, or thwack over the head, when his mistress was not by. They have cushions for their express use, on which they lie before the fire, and yet are apt to shiver and moan if there is the least draught of air. When any one enters the room, they make a tyrannical barking that is absolutely deafening. They are insolent to all the other dogs of the establishment. There is a noble staghound, a great favorite of the squire, who is a privileged visitor to the parlor: but, the moment he makes his appearance, these intruders fly at him with furious rage ; and I have admired the sovereign indifference and contempt with which he seems to look
down upon his puny assailants. When her ladyship drives out, these dogs are generally carried with her to take the air; when they look out of each window of the carriage, and bark at all vulgar pedestrian dogs. These dogs are a continual source of misery to the household, as they are always in the way; and they every now and then get their toes trod on, and then there is a yelping on their part, and a loud lamentation on the part of their mistress, that fill the room with clamor and confusion.
BIOGRAPHY OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
THERE are few writers for whom the reader feels such personal kindness as for Oliver Goldsmith; for few have so eminently possessed the magic gift of identifying themselves with their writings. We read his character in every page, and grow into familiar intimacy with him as we read. The artless benevolence that beams throughout his works ; the whimsical yet amiable views of human life and human nature; the unforced humor, blending so happily with good feeling and good sense, and singularly dashed at times with a pleasing melancholy; even the very nature of his mellow and flowing and softly-tinted style, -all seem to bespeak his moral as well as his intellectual qualities, and make us love the man at the same time that we admire the author. While the productions of writers of loftier pretension and more sounding names are suffered to molder on our shelves, those of Goldsmith are cherished and laid in our bosoms. We do not quote them with ostentation ; but they mingle with our minds, sweeten our tempers, and harmonize our thoughts: they put us in good humor with ourselves and with the world; and, in so doing, they make us happier and better men.
An acquaintance with the private biography of Goldsmith lets us into the secret of his gifted pages. We there discover them to be little more than transcripts of his own heart, and picturings of his fortunes. There he shows himself the same kind, artless, gool-humored, excursive, sensible, whimsical, intelligent being that he appears in his writings. Scarcely an adventure or character is given in his works that may not be traced to his own party-colored story. Many of his most ludicrous scenes and ridiculous incidents have been drawn from his own blunders and mischances; and he seems really to have been buffeted into almost every maxim imparted by him for the instruction of his reader.
Oliver Goldsmith was born on the 10th of November, 1728, at the hamlet of Pallas, or Pallasmore, county of Longford, in Ire
sprang from a respectable, but by no means a thrifty stock. Some families seem to inherit kindliness and incompetency, and to hand down virtue and poverty from generation to generation. Such was the case with the Goldsmiths. “ They were always,” according to their own accounts, “a strange family: they rarely acted like other people: their hearts were in the right place, but their heads seemed to be doing any thing but what they ought.” They were remarkable,” says another statement, “ for their worth, but of no cleverness in the ways of the world.” Oliver Goldsmith will be found faithfully to inherit the virtues and weaknesses of his race.
His father, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, with hereditary improvidence, married when very young and very poor, and starved along for several years on a small country curacy and the assistance of his wife's friends.
His whole income, eked out by the produce of some fields which he farmed, and of some occasional duties performed for his wife's uncle, the rector of an adjoining parish, did not exceed forty pounds:
“And passing rich with forty pounds a year.” He inhabited an old, half-rustic mansion, that stood on a rising ground in a rough, lonely part of the country overlooking a low tract occasionally flooded by the River Inny. In this house Goldsmith was born: and it was a birthplace worthy of a poet; for, by all accounts, it was haunted ground. A tradition handed down among the neighboring peasantry states, that, in after-years, the house, remaining for some time untenanted, went to decay, the roof fell in, and it became so lonely and forlorn as to be a resort for the “good people,” or fairies, who, in Ireland, are supposed to delight in old, crazy, deserted mansions for their midnight revels. All attempts to repair it were in vain : the fairies battled stoutly to maintain possession. A huge, misshapen hobgoblin used to bestride the house every evening
with an immense pair of jackboots, which, in his efforts at hard riding, he would thrust through the roof, kicking to pieces all the work of the preceding day. The house was therefore left to its fate, and went to ruin.
Such is the popular tradition about Goldsmith's birthplace. About two years after his birth, a change came over the circumstances of his father. By the death of his wife's uncle, he succeeded to the rectory of Kilkenny West; and, abandoning the old goblin mansion, he removed to Lissoy, in the county of Westmeath, where he occupied a farm of seventy acres, situated on the skirts of that pretty little village.
This was the scene of Goldsmith's boyhood, — the little world whence he drew many of those pictures, rural and domestic, whimsical and touching, which abound throughout his works, and
which appeal so eloquently both to the fancy and the heart. Lissoy is confidently cited as the original of his “Auburn” in “The Deserted Village.” His father's establishment - a mixture of farm and parsonage
furnished hints, it is said, for the rural economy of “The Vicar of Wakefield ;” and his father himself, with his learned simplicity, his guileless wisdom, his amiable piety, and utter ignorance of the world, has been exquisitely portrayed in the worthy Dr. Primrose. Let us pause for a moment, and draw from Goldsmith's writings one or two of those pictures, which, under feigned names, represent his father and his family, and the happy fireside of his childish days.
“My father,” says the “ Man in Black," — who in some respects is a counterpart of Goldsmith himself, —"my father, the younger son of a good family, was possessed of a small living in the church. His education was above his fortune, and his generosity greater than his education. Poor as he was, he had his flatterers poorer than himself. For every dinner he gave them, they returned him an equivalent in praise; and this was all he wanted. The same ambition that actuates a monarch at the head of his army influenced my father at the head of his table. He told the story of the ivy-tree, and that was laughed at; he repeated the jest of the two scholars and one pair of breeches, and the company laughed at that: but the story of Taffy in the sedan-chair was sure to set the table in a roar. Thus his pleasure increased in proportion to the pleasure he gave. He loved all the world; and he fancied all the world loved him.
“ As his fortune was but small, he lived up to the very extent of it. He had no intention of leaving his children money; for that was dross. He resolved they should have learning; for learning, he used to observe, was better than silver or gold. For this purpose, he undertook to instruct us himself, and took as much care to form our morals as to improve our understanding, We were told that universal benevolence was what first cemented society. We were taught to consider all the wants of mankind as our own; to regard the human face divine with affection and esteem. He wound us up to be mere machines of pity, and rendered us incapable of withstanding the slightest impulse made either by real or fictitious distress. In a word, we were perfectly instructed in the art of giving away thousands before we were taught the necessary qualifications of getting a farthing."
In “ The Deserted Village we have another picture of his father and his father's fireside:
“ His house was known to all the vagrant train:
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain.
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
His pity gave ere charity began." The family of the worthy pastor consisted of five sons and three daughters. Henry, the eldest, was the good man's pride and hope ; and he tasked his slender means to the utmost in educating him for a learned and distinguished career. Oliver was the second son, and seven years younger than Henry, who was the guide and protector of his childhood, and to whom he was most tenderly attached throughout life.
Oliver's education began when he was about three years old ; that is to say, he was gathered under the wings of one of those good old motherly dames, found in every village, who cluck together the whole callow brood of the neighborhood to teach them their letters, and keep them out of harm's way.
Mistress Elizabeth Delap (for that was her name) flourished in this capacity for upwards of fifty years; and it was the pride and boast of her declining days, when nearly ninety years of age, that she was the first that had put a book (doubtless a hornbook) into Goldsmith's hands. Apparently he did not much profit by it; for she confessed he was one of the dullest boys she had ever dealt with, insomuch that she had sometimes doubted whether it was possible to make any thing of him, a common case with imaginative children, who are apt to be beguiled from the dry abstractions of elementary study by the picturings of the fancy.
At six years of age he passed into the hands of the village schoolmaster, one Thomas (or, as he was commonly and irreverently named, Paddy) Byrne, – a capital tutor for a poet. He had been educated for a pedagogue, but had enlisted in the army, served abroad during the wars of Queen Anne's time, and risen to the rank of quartermaster of a regiment in Spain. At the return of peace, having no longer exercise for the sword, he resumed the ferule, and drilled the urchin populace of Lissoy. Goldsmith is supposed to have had him and his school in view in the following sketch in his “Deserted Village:”
“ Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way