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bis hopes, and from that time began to place a confidence in the resources of his talents, which thenceforward enabled him to keep his station in society, and cultivate the friendship of many eminent persons, who, whilst they smiled at his eccentricities, esteemed him for his genius and good qualities.
GOLDSMITH and Burke had often violent disputes about politics; the one being a staunch Tory, and the other at that time a Whig and outrageous anti-courtier. One day he came into the room when Goldsmith was there, full of ire and abuse against the late king, and went on in such a torrent of the most unqualified invective that Goldsmith threatened to leave the room. The other, however, persisted; and Goldsmith went out, unable to bear it any longer. So much for Mr. Burke's pretended consistency and uniform loyalty! When Northcote first came to Sir Joshua, he wished very much to see Goldsmith; and one day Sir Joshua, on introducing him, asked why he had been so anxious to see him. Because,' said Northcote," he is a notable man.' This expression, notable,' in its ordinary sense, was so contrary to Goldsmith's character, that they both burst out a laughing very heartily. Goldsmith was two thousand pounds in debt at the time of his death, which was hastened by his chagrin and distressed circumstances; and when She Stoops to Conquer' was performed, he was so choked all dinner-time that he could not swallow a mouthful. A party went from Sir Joshua's to support it. The present title was not fixed upon till that morning Northcote went with Ralph, Sir Joshua's man, into the gallery to see how it went off; and, after the second act, there was no doubt of its success. Northcote says, people had a great notion of the literary parties at Sir Joshua's.
Mrs. G. had certainly a lock of Goldsmith's hair, for she and her sister (Miss Horneck) had wished to have some remembrance of him after his death; and though the coffin was nailed up, it was opened again at their request, (such was the regard Goldsmith was known to have for them!) and a lock of his hair was cut off, which Mrs. G. still has. Northcote said, Goldsmith's death was the severest blow Sir Joshua ever received: he did not paint at all that day. It was proposed to make a grand funeral for him; but Reynolds objected to this, as it would be over in a day, and said it would be better to lay by the money to erect a monument to him in Westminster Abbey; and he went himself and chose the spot. Goldsmith had begun another norel of which he read the first chapter to the Miss Hornecks a little before his death. Northcote asked what I thought of the Vicar of Wakefield. And I answered, • What everybody else did. He said there was that mixture of the ludicrous and the pathetic running through it, which particularly delighted him: it gave a stronger resemblance to nature. He thought this justified Shakespeare in mingling up farce and tragedy together; life itself was a tragi-comedy. Instead of being pure, every thing was chequered. If you went to an execution, you would perhaps see an applewoman in the greatest distress because her stall was overturned, at which you could not help smiling. We then spoke of Retaliation,' and praised the character of Burke in particular as a masterpiece. Nothing that he had ever said or done but what was foretold in it; nor was he painted as the principal figure in the foreground with the partiality of a friend, or as the great man of the day, but with a background of history, showing both what he was and what he might have been. Northcote repeated some lines from the Traveller,' which were distinguished by a beautiful transparency, by simplicity and originality. He confirmed Boswell's account of Goldsmith, as being about the middle height, rather clumsy, and tawdry in his dress.
Human nature is always the same. It was so with Johnson and Goldsmith. They would allow no one to have any merit but themselves. The very attempt was a piece of presumption, and a trespass upon their privileged rights. I remember a poem that came out, and that was sent to Sir Joshua: his
servant Ralph had instructions to bring it in just after dinner. Goldsmith presently got hold of it, and seemed thrown into a rage before he had read a line of it. He then said, "What wretched stuff is here! what cursed nonsense that is!' and kept all the while marking the passages with his thumb-nail, as if he would cut them in pieces. At last, Sir Joshua, who was provoked, interfered, and said, “Nay, don't spoil my book, however.'
HAWKINS'S MEMOIRS OF JOHNSON.
GOLDSMITH is well known by his writings to have been a man of genius and of very fine parts; but of his character and general deportment it is the hardest task any one can undertake to give a description. I will, however, attempt it, trusting to be excused if, in the spirit of a faithful historian, I record as well his singularities as his merits.
There are certain memoirs of him extant, from which we learn that his inclination co-operating with his fortunes, which were but scanty, led him into a course of life little differing from vagrancy, that deprived him of the benefits of regular study: it, however, gratified his humour, stored his mind with ideas and some knowledge, which, when he became settled, he improved by various reading; yet to all the graces of urbanity he was a stranger. With the greatest pretensions to polished manners, he was rude, and, when he most meant the contrary, absurd. He affected Johnson's style and manner of conversation, and when he had uttered, as he often would, a laboured sentence, so tumid as to be scarcely intelligible, would ask if that was not truly Johnsonian; yet he loved not Johnson, but rather envied him for his parts, and once ontreated a friend to desist from praising him; for in doing so,' said he, you harrow up my very soul.'
He had some wit, but no humour, and never told a story but he spoiled it. The following anecdotes will convey some idea of the style and manner of his conversation.
He was used to say he could play on the German flute as well as most men, at other times as well as any man living; and in his poem of the Traveller has hinted at this attainment in the following lines:
"To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
But, in truth, he understood not the character in which music is written, and played on that instrument, as many of the vulgar do, merely by ear. Roubiliac, the sculptor, a merry fellow, once heard him play, and, minding to put a trick on him, pretended to be charmed with his performance, as also that himself was skilled in the art, and entreated him to repeat the air that he might write it down. Goldsmith readily consenting, Roubiliac called for paper, and scored thereon a few five-lined staves, which having done, Goldsmith proceeded to play and Roubiliac to write; but his writing was only such random notes on the lines and spaces as any one might set down who had ever inspected a page of music. When they had both done, Roubiliac showed the paper to Goldsmith, who, looking it over with seeming great attention, said it was very correct, and that, if he had not seen him do it, he never could have believed his friend capable of writing music after him.
He used frequently to preface a story thus: I will tell you a story of myself, which some people laugh at, and some do not.
At the breaking up of an evening at a tavern, he entreated the company to sit down, and told them if they would call for another bottle, they should hear one of his bon mots. They agreed, and he began thus : I was once told that Sheridan the player, in order to improve himself in stage gestures, had looking-glasses to the number of ten hung about his room, and that he practised before them; upon which I said,
Then there were ten ugly fellows together.' The company were all silent; he asked why they did not laugh, which they not doing, he, without tasting the wine, left the room in anger. In a large company he once said, “Yesterday I heard an excellent story, and I would relate it now if I thought any of you able to understand it.' The company laughed, and one of them said, Doctor, you are very rude;' but he made no apology. He once complained to a friend in these words:
Mr. Martinelli is a rude man: I said in his hearing, that there were no good writers among the Italians, and he said to one that sat near him, that I was very ignorant.'
•People,' said he, are greatly mistaken in me. A notion goes about, that when I am silent I mean to be impudent; but, I assure you, gentlemen, my silence arises from bashful.
Having one day a call to wait on the late duke, then earl of Northumberland, I found Goldsmith waiting for an audience in an outer room. I asked him what had brought him there: he told me an invitation from his lordship. I made my business as short as I could, and, as a reason, mentioned that Dr. Goldsmith was waiting without. The earl asked me if I was acquainted with him: I told him I was, adding what I thought likely to recommend him. I retired, and stayed in the outer room to take him home. Upon his coming out, I asked him the result of his conversation. His lordship,' says he, “ told me he had read my poem,' meaning the Traveller, and was much delighted with it; that he was going lord-lieutenant of Ireland; and that, bearing that I was a native of that country, he should be glad to do me any kind ness. And what did you answer, asked I, to this gracious offer? «Why,' said he, 'I could say nothing but that I had a brother there, a clergyman, that stood in need of help; as for myself, I have no dependence on the promises of great men; I look to the booksellers for support, they are my best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them for others.'