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On the stage be was natural, simple, affecting?
Twas only that when he was off he was acting.
With no reason on earth to go out of his way,
He turn'd and he varied full ten times a day.
Though secure of our hearts, yet confoundedly sick
If they were not his own by finessing and trick.
He cast off his friends like a huntsman his pack,
For he knew, when he pleas'd, he could whistle them back.
Of praise a mere glutton, he swallow'd what came,
And the puff of a dunce, he mistook it for fame;
'Till his relish grown callous, almost to disease,
Who peppci'd the highest was surest to please.
Bui let us be candid and speak out our mind;
If dunces applauded, he paid them in kind.
Ye Kenricks, ye Kellys, and Woodfalls, so grave,
What a commerce was yours, while you got and you gave,
How did Grub Street reecho the shouts that you rais'd,
While he was be-Roscius'd, and you were beprais'd I
But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies,
To act as an angel, and mix with the skies;
Those poets who owe their best fame to his skill
Shall still he bis flatterers, go where he will;
Old Shakespeare receive him with praise and with love,
And Beaumonls and Bens be his Kellys above.
The sum of all that can be said for and against Mr. Garrick, some people think, may be found in these lines of Goldsmith. That the person upon which they were written was displeased with some strokes of this character may be gathered from the following lines, which Mr. Garrick wrote on the Retaliation, soon after it had been produced to the society.
Are these the choice dishes the Doctor has sent us t
Candour must own that Mr. Garrick, in his verses on Goldsmith, was gentle in describing the subject, as well as delicate in the choice of his expressions, but that Garrick's features in the Retaliation are somewhat exaggerated.
Not long before his death, he had formed a desire of publishing an Encyclopedia, or A Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, a prospectus of which he printed and sent to his friends, many of whom had promised to furnish him with articles on different subjects; and amongst the rest Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Garrick. His expectations from any new conceived projects were generally very sanguine, but from so extensive a plan his hopes of gain had lifted up his thoughts to an extraordinary height.
The booksellers, notwithstanding they had a very good opinion of his abilities, yet were startled at the bulk, importance, and expense of so great an undertaking, the fate of which was to depend upon the industry of a man with whose indolence of temper and method of procrastination they had long been acquainted; the coldness with which they met his proposal was lamented by the Doctor to the hour of his death, which seems to have been accelerated by a neglect of his health occasioned by continual vexation of mind, arising from his involved circumstances. Death, I really believe, was welcome to a man of his great sensibility.
The chief materials which compose Goldsmith's character are before the reader; but, as I have with great freedom exposed his faults, I should not have dwelt so minutely upon them, if I had not been conscious that, upon a just balance of his good and bad qualities, the former would far outweigh the latter.
Goldsmith was so sincere a man, that he could not conceal what was uppermost in his mind: so far from desiring to appear in the eye of the world to the best advantage, he took more pains to be esteemed worse than he was, than others do to appear better than they are.
His envy was so childish, and so absurd, that it was easily pardoned, for every body laughed at it, and no man was ever very mischievous whose errors excited mirth : he never formed any scheme, or joined in any combination, to hurt any man living.
His inviting persons to condemn Mr. Home's tragedy at first sight wears an ill face; but this was a transient thought of a giddy man, who, upon the least check, would have immediately renounced it as heartily, and joined with a party to support the piece he had before devoted to destruction. It cannot be controverted that he was but a bad economist, nor in the least acquainted with that punctuality which regular people exact. He was more generous than just; like honest Charles, in the School for Scandal, he could not, for the soul of him, make justice keep pace with generosity. His disposition of mind was tender and compassionate; no unhappy person ever sued to him for relief without obtaining it, if he had any thing to give, and, rather than not relieve the distressed he would borrow. The poor woman with whom he had lodged during his obscurity several years in Green Arbour Court, by his death lost an excellent friend; for the Doctor often supplied her with food from his table, and visited her frequently with the sole purpose to be kind to her. He had his dislike, as most men have, to particular people, but unmixed with rancour. He, least of all mankind, approved Baretti's conversation ; he considered him as an insolent, overbearing foreigner; as Baretti, in his turn, thought him an unpolished man, and an absurd companion; but when this unhappy Italian was charged with murder, and afterwards sent by Sir John Fielding to Newgate, Goldsmith opened his purse, and 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. Goldsmith 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 1 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 etourdi, 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 anexcess, 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 am 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