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would have given him every shilling it contained; he, at the same time, insisted upon going in the coach with him to the place of his confinement.
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
DR. GOLDSMITI is one of the first men we now have as an author, and he is a very worthy man too. He has been loose in his principles, but he is coming right.
As Dr. Oliver Goldsmith will frequently appear in this narrative, I shall endeavour 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 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 Continent; and, I have been informed, was enabled to pursue his travels on foot, partly by demanding at the university 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 that, as I once observed to Dr. Johnson, he disputed his passage through Europe. He then came to England, and was 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 assiduously 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, only indeed upon a smaller scale.
At this time I think he published nothing with his 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 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 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 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 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 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 ain afraid, had no settled system of any sort, so that his conduct must not be strictly scrutinized; but his affections 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 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 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 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.'
During all the time in which Dr. Johnson was employed in relating to the circle at Sir Joshua Reynolds's the particulars of what passed between the king and him, Dr. Goldsmith remained unmoved upon a sofa at soine distance, affecting not to join in the least in the eager curiosity of the company. He assigned as a reason for his gloom and seeming inattention, that he apprehended Johnson had relinquished his purpose of furnishing him with a Prologue to his play, with the hopes of which he had been flattered ; but it was strongly suspected that he was fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. Johnson had lately enjoyed. At length, the frankness and simplicity of his natural character prevailed. He sprung from the sofa, advanced to Johnson, and, in a kind of futter from imagining himself in the situation which he had just been hearing described, exclaimed, “Well, you acquitted yourself in this conversation better than I should have done; for I should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it.'
To obviate all the reflections which have gone round the world to Johnson's prejudice, by applying to him the epithet of a bear, let me impress upon my readers a just and happy saying of my friend Goldsmith, who knew him well: “Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in his manner; but no man alive has a more tender heart. He has nothing of the bear but his skin.'
Goldsmith, to divert the tedious minutes, strutted about, bragging of his dress, and I believe was seriously vain of it; for his mind was wonderfully prone to such impressions. • Come, come (said Garrick), talk no more of that. You are, perhaps, the worst eh, - eh!'
Goldsmith was eagerly attempting to interrupt him, when Garrick went on, laughing ironically, 'Nay, you will always look like a gentleman; but I am talking of being well or ill dressed. Well, let me tell you (said Goldsmith), when my tailor brought home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, “Sir, I have a favour to beg
When anybody asks who made your clothes, be pleased to mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Water Lane." Johnson : «Why, sir, that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how well he could make a coat, even of so absurd a colour.'
He said, Goldsmith's Life of Parnell is poor; not that it is poorly written, but that he had poor materials; for nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.'
A question was started, how far people who disagree in a capital point can live in friendship together. Johnson said they might. Goldsmith said they could not, as they had not the idem velle atque idem nolle, the same likings and the same aversions. Johnson: “Why, sir, you must shun the subject as to which you disagree. For instance, I can live very well with Burke: I love his knowledge, his genius, his diffusion, and affluence of conversation; but I would not talk to him
of the Rockingham party.' Goldsmith: But, sir, when people live together who have something as to which they disagree, and which they want to shun, they will be in the situation mentioned in the story of Bluebeard: “ You may look into all the chambers but one.” But we should have the greatest inclination to look into that chamber, to talk of that subject.' Johnson (with a loud voice): "Sir, I am not saying that you could live in friendship with a man from whom you differ as to some point; I am only saying that I could do it. You put me in mind of Sappho in Ovid.'
Goldsmith told us that he was now busy in writing a natural history, and, that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken lodgings at a farmer's house, near to the sixth milestone on the Edgeware Road, and had carried down his books in two returned postchaises. He said he believed the farmer's family thought him an odd character, similar to that in which the Spectator appeared to his landlady and her children: he was the gentleman. Mr. Mickle, the translator of The Lusiad,' and I went to visit him at this place a few days afterwards. He was not at home; but, having a curiosity to see his apartment, we went in, and found curious scraps of descriptions of animals scrawled upon the wall with a blacklead pencil.
The subject of ghosts being introduced, Johnson repeated what he had told me of a friend of his, an honest man, and a man of sense, having asserted to him that he had seen an apparition. Goldsmith told us be was assured by his brother, the Rev. Mr. Goldsmith, that he also had seen one.
Of our friend Goldsmith he said, “Sir, he is so much afraid of being unnoticed, that he often talks merely lest you should forget that he is in the company. Boswell: “Yes, he stands forward.' Johnson: “True, sir; but if a man is to stand forward, he should wish to do it not in an awkward posture, not in rags, not so as that he shall only be exposed to ridicule.' Boswell: • For my part, I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk away carelessly.' Johnson: "Why yes, sir, but he should not like to hear bimself.'