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medicine imprudently, became so weak as to sink under the disease on April 4.
His cliaracter is a compound of various and often contradictory qualities. Imprudence and want of dignified conduct betrayed him into many follies and distresses which rendered his comforts uncertain, and his life irregular. He was, however, generous almost to a fault, and profuse in sharing his purse with the indigent, even when he knew not where to look for a supply in his own necessities. His conversation was, like his conduct, eccentric, forward, and out of the common track. Yet such was his turn for humour, and repartee, that his company was much sought after, and it is certain that he associated in the most familiar terms with the most eminent scholars of his time.
As a poet, it is almost unnecessary to add, that he ranked in the first class, although none of his pieces are of that length, which, in the opinion of some critics, is necessary to the reputation of a first-rate poet.
Of his prose-works the Vicar of Wakefield, now presented to the reader, is unquestionably the most original and the most popular. The history of this work is rather curious. After he became acquainted with Dr. Johnson, the latter one morning received
message from him, signifying that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his power to come to Johnson, begging that Johnson would come to him as soon as possible. Johnson, who had a most liberal heart and felt keenly for the distresses of a brother author, sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. When he went he found that Goldsmith's landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. The Doctor found at the same time that Goldsmith had changed his guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira, and a glass before him. There is not, in all Goldsmith's history, a trait more descriptive of his thoughtless character, Dr. Johnson, however, put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he
viii MEMOIRS OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH. might be extricated. He then told Johnson that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced. Johnson looked into it and saw its merit, told the landlady he should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. When he brought the money, Goldsmith discharged his rent, but not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.
It is probable that in this transaction Dr. Johnson's influence with the bookseller Mr. Newbery, might have considerable effect, for the opinion of the latter was so unfavourable that he kept back the Vicar of Wakefield for some time, and did not indeed venture to publish it, uutil the success of “ The Traveller" had given Goldsmith a name. It ha accordingly made its appearance in 1766, and was read and admired with such avidity as soon to pass through several editions.
The stamp of general approbation has been so long impressed on the Vicar of Wakefield, that it would be superfluous to enter on a minute examination of her its merit. That, however, in which it excells all of other fictitious narratives, is the simplicity, not or only of style but of thought, which pervades the ma whole; and the powerful interest which the story ti creates in every feeling mind, is a proof how much
u may be done to raise the passions, without the aid of meretricious ornament, or any of those extravagant and improbable incidents with which moderu romances abound. Nor has the author shown less gepius in the delineation of his characters. The Vicar is truly original, and although Mrs. Prinirose and her children are taken from the walks of common life, they are discriminated by such nice touches of character, that each becomes a favourite, and a prominent actor in this domestic drama. But what perhaps is yet the highest praise that can be bestowed, this novel is more eminently calculated than any we can mention, to inculcate benevolence, humanity, patience in suffering, and reliance on providence.
so long would
ene. Il The description of the family of Wakefield, in end at which a kindred likeness prevails as well of to pass minds as of persons.
WAS ever of opinion that the honest man, who
married and brought up a large family, did more Eon of service than he who continued single, and only talked is all of population. From this motive, I had scarce taken
not orders a year, before I began to think seriously of the matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedstory ding-gown, not for a fine glossy surface, but such much qualities as would wear well. To do her justice, Le aid she was a good-natured, notable, woman; and as for trava breeding, there were few country ladies who could
deri shew more. She could read any English book withss ge. out much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, and Vicar cookery, none could excel her. She prided herself
and also upon being an excellent contriver in housemmor keeping; though I could never find that we grew nes of richer with all her contrivances.
However, we loved each other tenderly, and our what fondness increased as we grew old. There was, in e be fact, nothing that could make us angry with the lated world, or each other. We had an elegant house, cence, situate in a fine country, and a good neighbourhood. The year was spent in moral or rural amusements,
in visiting our rich neighbours, and relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; all our adventures were by the fire-side, and all our migrations from the blue bed to the brown.
As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger visit us, to taste our gooseberrywine, for which we had great reputation; and I profess, with the veracity of an historian, that I never knew one of them find fault with it. Our cousins too, even to the fortieth remove, all remembered their affinity, without any help from the herald's oftice, and came very frequently to see us. Some of them did us no great honour by these claims of kin. dred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the halt, amongst the number. However, my wife always insisted that as they were the same flesh and blood, they should sit with us at the same table: so that if we had not very rich, we generally had very happy, friends about us; for this remark will hold good through life, that the poorer the guest, the better pleased he ever is with being treated; and as some men gaze with admiration at the colours of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I was by nature an ad. mirer of happy human faces. However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of a very bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house, I ever took care to lend him a riding-coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes an horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction to find he never came back to return them. By this the house was cleared of such as we did not like; but never was the family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller or the poor dependent out of doors.
Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness; not but that we sometiines had those little rubs which providence sends to enhance the value of its favours. My orchard was often robbed by school-boys, and my wife's custards plundered by the
cats or the children. The squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady returni my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated curtsey. But we soon got over the uneasiness caused by such accidents, and usually in three or four days began to wonder how they vexed us.
My children, the offspring of temperance, as they were educated without softness, so they were at once well-formed and healthy; my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming. When I stood in the midst of the little circle, which promised to be the supports of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating the famous story of Count Abensberg, who, in Henry II.'s progress through Germany, while other courtiers came with their treasures, brought his thirty-two children, and presented them to his sovereign as the most valuable offering he had to bestow. In this manner, though I had but six, I considered them as a very valuable present made to my country, and consequently looked upon it as my debtor. Our eldest son was named George, after his uncle, who left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a giil, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who during her pregnancy had been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the girl was, by her directions, called Sophia; so that we had two romantic names in the family: but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses was our next, and, after an interval of twelve years, we had two sons more.
It would be fruitless to deny my exultation when I saw my little ones about me; but the vanity and the satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine. When our visitors would say, 'Well, upon my word, Mrs. Primrose, you have the finest chil.