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SPECIMEN OF ROBERTSON'S PROSE,

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towards the island with their colours displayed, with warlike music, and other martial pomp. As they approached the coast, they saw it covered with a multitude of people, whom the novelty of the spectacle had drawn together, whose attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themselves to their view. Columbus was the first European who set foot on the New World which he had discovered. He landed in a rich dress, and with a naked sword in his hand. His men followed, and, kneeling down, they all kissed the ground which they had so long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix, and prostrating themselves before it, returned thanks to God for conducting their voyage to such a happy issue. They then took solemn possession of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the for. malities which the Portuguese were accustomed to observe in acts of this kind in their new discoveries.

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BOYHOOD OF GOLDSMITH.

CHAPTER IX.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

Born 1728 A.D..........Died 1774 A.D.

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Brick Court.
The Deserted Village
Retaliation.
His death,
Illustrative extract.

BUFFON's well-known saying, “Le style est l'homme,is by no man better illustrated than by Oliver Goldsmith. A guileless goodnature, a kind and tender love for all his human brotherhood, a gay, unthinking hopefulness, shine clearly out from every page he wrote. The latter half of his short life of forty-five years was spent in a continuous struggle for daily bread; his earlier years were full of change and hardship. Yet sneers and buffets, drudgery and debt, had no power to curdle the milk of human kindness in this gentle heart.

Charles Goldsmith, a Protestant clergyman, was trying to live on £40 a year at the little village of Pallas or Pallasmore, in the county of Longford, when in 1728 his famous son Oliver was born. Be. fore the child was two years old, the living of Kilkenny West, worth nearly £200 a year, rewarded this good parson for his virtues and his toils; and the family in consequence removed to a commodious house at Lissoy, in the county of Westmeath. Here little Oliver grew up, went to the village school, and had a severe attack of smallpox, which left deep pits in his poor face. When he went to higher schools, at Elphin, Athlone, and Edgeworthstown, the thick, awkward, pale, and pock-marked boy was knocked about and made fun of by his cruel seniors, until the butt began to retort sharp arrowy wit upon those who sneered at his ugly face or uncouth movements.

In 1745 he passed the sizarship examination at Trinity Col.

GOLDSMITH'S STUDENT-LIFE.

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way. Hated

lege, Dublin, being placed last on the list of the eight successful candidates. The sizar of those days, marked by a coarse black sleeveless gown and a red cap,

had to do much servile work sweeping the courts, carrying the dishes up from the college kitchen, and waiting upon the Fellows as they dined. The kindness of his uncle Contarine, who had paid most of his school bills, followed him to college too; but even with this aid, when the Reverend Charles Goldsmith died in 1747, his son Oliver was left not far from starvation in the top room of No. 35. Here we detect his first literary performances. Writing street-ballads for five shillings apiece, he used to steal out at night to hear them sung and watch their ready sale in the dimly lighted streets. Here, too, we see the early symptoms of that benevolence, which was almost a mental disease, for it was seldom that the five shillings came home with the hungry student,--some of the hard-earned money

had
gone to the beggars he had met upon

the and discouraged by his tutor, he grew idler than ever,—took his full share in the ducking of a bailiff,— tried for a scholarship, and failed, ,—was knocked down by his tutor,

- ran away, was brought back to college by his brother,—took a very low 1749 B.A. in 1749,--and then went home to his mother's little A.D. cottage at Ballymahon for two years.

We cannot trace minutely his attempts to be a tutor, a clergyman, a lawyer, a physician. During his stay in Edinburgh, whither he went in 1752 to study medicine, his name was better known

among his fellow-students as a good story-teller, and one who sang a capital Irish song, than for any distinctions he won in the class-rooms of the professors. His two winters in the Scottish capital were followed by a winter at Leyden, where he lived chiefly by teaching English. One day, after spending nearly all the money he had just borrowed from a friend, in buying a parcel of rare tulip-roots for his uncle Contarine, he left Leyden “with a guinea in his pocket, but one shirt to his back, and a flute in his hand,” to make the grand tour of Europe, and seek for his medical degree.

Between February 1755 and February 1756 he travelled

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STRUGGLES FOR BREAD,

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through Flanders, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy—very often trudging all day on foot, and at night playing merry tunes on his flute before a peasant's cottage, in the hope of a supper and a bed—for a time acting as companion or governor to the rich young nephew of a pawnbroker-and in Italy winning a shelter, a little money, and a plate of macaroni by disputing in the Universities. His degree of M.B., on which his claim to be called Doctor Goldsmith rests, was probably received during these wanderings either at Louvain or at Padua. No one can regret this twelvemonth's walk, who has read The Traveller, or those chapters in the Vicar of Wakefield which depict the career of a Philosophic Vagabond.

And then began that struggle in the troubled waters of London life, which closed only when the struggler lay coffined in Brick Court. Before he settled down to the precarious work of making a livelihood by his pen, he made a desperate attempt to gain a footing in his own profession. In a shop on Fish Street Hill he worked for a while with mortar and pestle as an apothecary's drudge. He then commenced practice among the poor of Southwark; a scene of his life during which we catch two glimpses of his little figure,—once, in faded green and gold, talking to an old school-fellow in the street; and again, in rusty black velvet, with second-hand cane and wig, concealing a great patch in his coat by pressing his old hat fashionably against his side, while he resists the efforts of his poor patient to relieve him of the encumbrance. In the printing-office of Richardson the novelist he was for a time reader and corrector to the press; and he was afterwards usher in Dr. Milner's school at Peckham, ,-a position in which

he was far from being happy. One day Griffiths the book1757 seller, dining at Milner's, proposed to give him board

and a small salary if he would write for the Monthly

Review. Accepting the offer, he contributed many papers to that periodical; but he complained that the bookseller, or the bookseller's old wife, tampered with every one of them. Returning in a few months to the old usher-life at Dr. Milner's, he felt a passing gleam of prosperity, when he received his appointment

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GREEN ARBOUR COURT.

337

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A.D.

as surgeon to a factory on the Coromandel coast; but, for some unexplained reason, this hope of permanent employment came to nothing. As a last chance, he presented himself at Surgeons' Hall in a suit of clothes obtained on Griffiths' security, in order to pass as a surgeon's mate in the navy; but fortunately for the readers of the “ Vicar” and “Sweet Auburn," he was plucked. This last hope broken in his eager grasp, he was driven to the pen once more. His rejection at 1758 Surgeons' Hall may thus be viewed as marking his real entrance upon the literary profession.

A garret in a miserable, tottering square, called Green Arbour Court, which was approached by a flight of stone stairs, styled suggestively “Break-Neck-Steps," had lately become his home. This dirty room, furnished with a mean bed and a single wooden chair, witnessed the misery of the would-be surgeon's mate on the night of his rejection, and saw him, thoughtless of all but burning pity, go out, four days later, to pawn the clothes he had got on the bookseller's security, in order to help his poor landlady, whose husband had just been seized by bailiffs. There he wrote reviews and memoirs for Smollett's periodical. There he was visited by. Percy of the “Reliques," who found him writing his first important work, An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning 1759 in Europe. He was soon engaged to write a three-penny periodical, which was to appear every Saturday under the title of The Bee. It was a blue book, utterly unlike the ponderous tomes so called now, for it was full of wit and graceful writing. But it did not take. Still the busy pen worked on. “The British Magazine,” edited by Smollett, was enriched with several Essays by Goldsmith. Among these we find some of his most charming shorter pieces; of which the Reverie in the Boar's Head at Eastcheap, and the story of the Shabby Actor, picked up in St. James's Park, are oftenest read and best liked. Soon in the" Public Ledger,” a newly sprung paper, there appeared a series of Letters, describing a Chinaman's impressions of English life, which attracted considerable notice. These productions of Goldsmith’s pen were afterwards published in a collected form as The Citizen of the (15)

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A.D.

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