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forward, the kind, and early patrons of his youth. As a preliminary step, Oliver was sent to Athlone school, under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Campbell. Having stayed there two years till his master left his situation, he passed under the care of the Rev. Patrick Hughes, at Edgeworth Town, in the county of Longford, where he remained till he went to the university. His progress here is said to have been great; his master is described as a very enlightened and kind-hearted man, enjoying the affection of his scholars, and particularly of the young Poet, who ever after spoke of him with gratitude. Before he left this school, a circumstance is said to have taken place, which afterwards suggested to him the plot of his amusing comedy ' She Stoops to Conquer.' He mistook a gentleman's house for an inn; and showed, if the story is true, an odd abstraction of mind, very unusual at so early an age, or a singular simplicity in not discovering a trick that had been played on him.
At the age8 of fifteen he was sent to the university of Dublin, and on the 11th of June, 1744, he was admitted a Sizer of Trinity College under
"Mr. Mangin believes that Goldsmith remained at Listroy till he went, at the age of sixteen, in 1744, to Trinity College, Dublin: that he afterwards returned, and assisted his brother in his school, till he was nineteen, at which time he went to Edinburgh, occasionally going to Dublin to keep his terms, the usual custom with those young men whose friends were unable to support their constant residence at the Rev. Theaker Wilder, one of the fellows. The choice was unfortunate. Our Poet's disposition is represented as thoughtless and eccentric, his conduct irregular and wild, while the temper of the tutor was irritable, and even vindictive. Hence perpetual quarrels arose, which disgusted the boy with learning, made him gloomy and morose, and even drove him into a willing exile. Oliver imprudently gave a dance and supper at his rooms to some young friends of both sexes; this was of course contrary to the college discipline. His tutor heard of it, burst in upon the young offenders in the midst of their enjoyment, and inflicted personal castigation on the offending host. Oliver considered himself deeply disgraced; his high spirit could not brook so gross an affront; and he determined at once to leave his angry tutor, and his unfinished studies, and fly, where the disgrace of his chastisement had not been heard. The angry schoolboy sold his books and clothes, meaning to embark at Cork, but lingered thoughtlessly at Dublin till his slender finances were reduced to a single shilling. On this he contrived to live for three days, the sale of a few clothes supported him a
college. While living at Listroy he was considered by his old friends as a prodigy of learning and knowledge, and flattered his own vanity by going constantly in an evening 'to the Pidgeons',' where he received the respect and homage of the villagers; and he at length spent so many hours there as to incur the strong remonstrance from his brother.'
Rev. R. H. Newell's ed. p. 80.
little longer, and to such straits did his improvidence reduce him, that he was relieved from the most extreme hunger, by a handful of gray pease which some goodnatured girl gave him at a wake. His wretchedness at last brought him to his senses, he was convinced of the folly and rashness of his conduct, and wrote to his brother to procure a reconciliation with his tutor. This was in some measure effected, and he returned to college. Here he is described as being habitually indolent, yet occasionally discovering gleams of genius, and distinguishing himself by superior translations from the classics. The account he gave of himself to Malone was 9—' that though he made no great figure in mathematics, which was a study much in repute there, he could turn an ode of Horace better than any of them.'—It may be fairly presumed that his advancement in the solid studies required by the discipline of the university was not altogether satisfactory to his tutors; for he was not admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts till Feb. 27, 1749, two years after the regular time. While at the university he was the contemporary of Edmund Burke: and it has been said that neither of them gave much promise of their future celebrity. Such an assertion however does not deserve entire credit, till we know who it was who thus professes to give the result of his observation, and with what care and dis
8 v. Watkius' Literary Anecdotes, p. 513.
crimination it was bestowed. It would be difficult to believe that the mind of Burke was ever sluggish or inactive; and Goldsmith is said to have obtained a prize at a Christmas examination of the highest order.10 At this time he had the misfortune of losing his father; but his uncle Contorine's kindness was exerted to supply a parent's place. Oliver was designed for orders, much, as we may believe, against his inclinations; and was not therefore displeased when the bishop refused to ordain him on account of his youth.11 To support himself, he became private tutor in the family of a neighbouring gentleman; soon found the situation irksome and laborious, and resigned it. He then purchased a good horse, put in his pocket thirty pounds that he had saved, left his friends, and a second time set off on a journey unknown to all.
His sudden and protracted absence excited great alarm; and such wild unfeeling conduct justly roused the indignation of his family. Week after week passed away and no tidings came of the thoughtless wanderer; at length he arrived at his mother's house, when he had no longer the means of remaining away, for his noble steed had been changed into a miserable pony, which he called Fiddleback, and his thirty pounds had entirely disappeared. He said that he engaged a passage on board of a ship from Cork to North America, and when the ship set sail was wandering about the country, and was consequently left behind. His subsequent adventures are too long to give in the space of this brief memoir;10 but it is sufficient to say, that after being unsuccessful in his attempt to borrow money from a miserly college friend, who, in lieu of it, gave him some advice; he was introduced by him to a gentleman, in whose hospitable house he remained several days; was agreeably entertained by his two beautiful daughters; and after borrowing three half guineas of him, went away impressed with sentiments of great respect for the gentleman, and admiration of the ladies.
10 Goldsmith got a premium at a Christmas examination in Trin. Coll. Dublin, which I have seen.—Kearney. A premium obtained at the Christmas examination is more honourable than any other, because it ascertains the person who receives it to be first in literary merit.
Malone, v. Boswell's Johnson, i. p. 421.
11' He was intended for the church, and went to the Bishop of Elphin to be examined for orders; but appearing in a pair of scarlet breeches he was rejected.'
A. Strean's Letter, p. 150.
I should suppose that his family must have been somewhat at a loss what profession to select for a person who, with more than adequate talents, seemed equally unfit for all. After much
10 It is said, that his mother was looking rather gravely on her imprudent child who had such adventures to relate, when he concluded by saying, 'and now, my dear mother, having struggled so hard to come home to you, I wonder that you are not more rejoiced to see me.'
Campbell's B. Poets, vol. vi. p. 255.