Page images

answered, 'I am his brother.' The gentleman who had first made the observation on the name looked doubtingly, and said, • He has but one brother living: I know him well.' "True,' replied the stranger, 'for it may be said that I am risen from the dead, having been for many years supposed to be no longer in the land of the living. I am Charles, the youngest of the family. Oliver, I know, is dead; but of Henry and Maurice I know nothing.'

On being informed of various particulars of his family, the stranger then told his simple tale ; which was, that, having heard of his brother Noll mixing in the first society in London, he took it for granted that his fortune was made, and that he could soon make a brother's also; he therefore left home without notice, but soon found, on his arrival in London, that the picture he had formed of his brother's situation was too highly coloured ; that Noll would not introduce him to his great friends, and, in fact, that although out of a jail, he was also often out of a lodging.

Disgusted with this entrance into high life, and ashamed to return home, the young man left London without acquainting his brother with his intentions, or even writing to his friends in Ireland; and proceeded, a poor adventurer, to Jamaica, where he lived for many years without ever renewing an intercourse with his friends, and by whom he was, of course, supposed to be dead; though Oliver may at first have imagined that he had returned to Ireland. Years now passed on, and young Charles, by industry and perseverance, began to save some property; soon after which, he married a widow lady of some fortune; when, his young family requiring the advantages of further education, he determined to return to England, to examine into the state of society, and into the propriety of bringing over his wife and family: on this project he was then engaged, and was proceeding to Ireland to visit his native home, and with the intention of making himself known to such of his relatives as might still be living. His plan, however was to conceal his good fortune until he should ascertain their affection and esteem for him.

On arriving at Dublin, the party separated; and my friend, a few weeks afterwards, returning from the north, called at the Hotel where he knew Mr. Goldsmith intended to reside. There he met him; when the amiable old man, for such he really was, told him that he had put his plan in execution; had given himself as much of the appearance of poverty as he could with propriety, and thus proceeded to the shop of his brother Maurice, where he inquired for several articles, and then noticed the name over the door, asking if it had any connexion with the famous Dr. Goldsmith.

"I am his brother, his sole surviving brother,' said Maurice.

• What, then,' replied the stranger, is become of the others?'

• Henry has long been dead; and poor Charles has not been heard of for many years.'

• But suppose Charles were alive,' said the stranger, 'would his friends acknowledge him?' "Oh, yes!' replied Maurice, gladly indeed!' He lives, then; but as poor as when he left you.'

Maurice instantly leaped over his counter, hugged him in his arms, and, weeping with pleasure, cried, “Welcome, welcome! here you shall find a home and a brother.'

It is needless to add, that this denouement was perfectly agreeable to the stranger, who was then preparing to return to Jamaica to make his proposed family arrangement; but my friend having been engaged for the next twenty years in traversing the four quarters of the globe, - being himself a wanderer, - has never, since that period, had an opportunity of making inquiries into the welfare of the stranger, for whom he had, indeed, formed a great esteem, even on a few days' acquaintance.

Sir Joshua was much affected by the death of Goldsmith, to whom he had been a very sincere friend. He did not touch the pencil for that day; a circumstance most extraordinary for him, who passed no day without a line. He acted as executor, and managed in the best manner the confused state of the Doctor's affairs. At first he intended, as I have already stated, to have made a grand funeral for him, assisted by several subscriptions to that intent, and to have buried him in the Abbey, his pallbearers to have been Lord Shelburne, Lord Louth, Sir Joshua himself, Burke, Garrick, &c.; but, on second thoughts, he resolved to have him buried in the plainest and most private manner possible, observing that the most pompous funerals are soon past and forgotten, and that it would be much more prudent to apply what money could be procured to the purpose of a more substantial and more lasting memorial of his departed friend, by a monument; and he was accordingly privately interred in the Temple burying-ground.

Sir Joshua went himself to Westminster Abbey, and fixed upon a place where Goldsmith's monument now stands, over a door in the Poet's Corner. He thought himself lucky in being able to find so conspicuous a situation for it, as there scarcely remained another so good.

Nollekens, the sculptor, was employed to make the monument, and Dr. Johnson composed the epitaph.

There is a very fine portrait, which is the only original one of Dr. Goldsmith, now at Knowle, the seat of the Duke of Dorset, painted by Sir Joshua.

A lady, who was a great friend of Dr. Goldsmith, earnestly desired to have a lock of his hair to keep as a memorial of him; and his coffin was opened again, after it had been closed up, to procure this lcck of hair from his head. This relic is still in the possession of the family, and is the only one of the kind which has been preserved of the Doctor.

An observation of Dr. Beattie, respecting the deceased Poet, in a letter to Mr. Montagu, must not be passed over:• I am sorry for poor Goldsmith. There were some things in his temper which I did not like, but I liked many things in his genius; and I was sorry to find, last summer, that he looked upon me as a person who seemed to stand between him and his interest. However, when next we meet, all this will be forgotten; and the jealousy of authors, which, Dr. Gregory used to say, was next to that of physicians, will be no more.'

Soon after Goldsmith's death, some people dining with Sir Joshua were commenting rather freely on some part of his works, which, in their opinion, neither discovered talent nor ori. ginality. To this Dr. Johnson listened in his usual growling manner for some time; when, at length, bis patience being exhausted, he rose with great dignity, looked them full in the face, and exclaimed, “If nobody was suffered to abuse poor Goldy but those who could write as well, he would have few censors.'

Yet, on another occasion, soon after the death of Goldsmith, a lady of his acquaintance was condoling with Dr. Johnson on their loss, saying, Poor Goldsmith! I am exceedingly sorry for him; he was every man's friend!'

“No, madam,' answered Johnson, he was no man's friend.'

In this seemingly harsh sentence, however, he merely alluded to the careless and imprudent conduct of Goldsmith, as being no friend even to himself; and, when that is the case, a man is rendered incapable of being of any essential service to any one else.

It has been generally circulated, and believed by many, that Goldsmith was a mere fool in conversation; but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated by such as were really fools. In allusion to this notion, Mr. Horace Walpole, who admired his writings, said he was an inspired idiot; ' and Garrick described him as one,

'for shortness call’d Noll, Who wrote like an angel, but talk'd like poor poll.' Sir Joshua Reynolds mentioned to Boswell that he frequently had heard Goldsmith talk warmly of the pleasure of being liked, and observe how hard it would be if literary excellence should preclude a man from that satisfaction, which he perceived it often did, from the envy which attended it; and therefore Sir Joshua was convinced that he was intentionally more absurd, in order to lessen himself in social intercourse, trusting that his character would be sufficiently supported by his works. If it was his intention to appear absurd in company, he was often very successful. This, in my own opinion, was really the case; and I also think Sir Joshua was so sensible of the advantage of it, that he, yet in a much less degree, followed the same idea, as he never had a wish to impress his company with any awe of the great abilities with which he was endowed, espe. cially when in the society of those high in rank.

I have heard Sir Joshua say that he has frequently seen the whole company struck with an awful silence at the entrance of Goldsmith, but that Goldsmith has quickly dispelled the charm by his boyish and social manners, and he then has soon become the plaything and favourite of the company.

Mr. Boswell in this year records an opinion of Sir Joshua's on the subject of conversation, which may be noticed in this place. When it had been proposed to add some members to the Literary Club (during Goldsmith's life), that writer had said in favour of it, that it would give the club an agreeable variety, that there could then be nothing new among the members, and that they had travelled over each other's minds; to which Johnson answered, “Sir, you have not travelled over my mind, I promise you.' When Sir Joshua was afterwards told of this, he agreed with Goldsmith, saying, that, when people have lived a great deal together, they know what each of them will say on the subject. A new understanding, therefore, is desirable; because, though it may only furnish the same sense upon a question which would have been furnished by those with whom we are accustomed to live, yet this sense will have a different colouring, and colouring is of much effect in every thing else as well as in painting.'

The mention of Goldsmith calls to my recollection a circumstance related to me by Miss Reynolds.

About the year 1770, Dr. Goldsmith lost his mother, who died in Ireland. On this occasion he immediately dressed himself in a suit of clothes of gray cloth, trimmed with black, such as commonly is worn for second mourning. When he appeared the first time after this at Sir Joshua Reynolds's house, Miss F. Reynolds, the sister of Sir Joshua, asked him whom had lost, as she saw he wore mourning; when he answered, a distant relation only; being shy, as I conjecture, to own that he wore such slight mourning for so near a relative. This appears in him an unaccountable blunder, in wearing such a dress; as all those who did not know his mother, or of her death, would not expect or require him to wear mourning at all, and to all

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »