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and triumphed not only over Colman's judgment, but our own.
As the life of poor Oliver Goldsmith was now fast approaching to its period, I conclude my account of him with gratitude for the epitaph he bestowed on me in his poem called Retaliation.
It was upon a proposal started by Edmund Burke, that a party of friends who had dined together at Sir Joshua Reynolds's and my house should meet at the St. James's Coffeehouse, which accordingly took place, and was occasionally repeated with much festivity and good fellowship. Dr. Bermard, Dean of Deny, a very amiable and old friend of mine, Dr. Douglas, since Bishop of Salisbury, Johnson, David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund and Richard Burke, Hickey, with two or three others, constituted our party. At one of these meetings an idea was suggested of extemporary epitaphs upon the parties present; pen and ink were called for, and Garrick oft-hand wrote an epitaph with a good deal of humour upon poor Goldsmith, who was the first in jest, as he proved to be in reality, that we committed to the grave. The Dean also gave him an epitaph, and Sir Joshua illuminated the Dean's verses with a sketch of his bust in pen and ink inimitably caricatured. Neither Johnson nor Burke wrote any thing, and when I perceived Oliver was rather sore, and seemed to watch me with that kind of attention which indicated his expectation of something in the same kind of burlesque with theirs, I thought it time to press the joke no further, and wrote a few couplets at a side table, which when I had finished, and was called on by the company to exhibit, Goldsmith with much agitation besought me to spare him, and I was about to tear them, when Johnson wrested them out of my hand, and in a loud voice read them at the table. I have now lost all recollection of them, and in fact they were little worth remembering, but as they were serious and complimentary, the effect they had upon Goldsmith was the more pleasing for being so entirely unexpected. The concluding line, which is the only one I can call to mind, was 'All mourn the poet, I lament the man.'
This I recollect, because he repeated it several times, and seemed much gratified by it. At our next meeting he produced his epitaphs as they stand in the little posthumous poems abovementioned, and this was the last time he ever enjoyed the company of his friends.'
As he had served up the company under the similitude of various sorts of meat, I had in the mean time figured them under that of liquor, which little poem 1 rather think was printed, but of this I am not sure. Goldsmith sickened and died, and we had one concluding meeting at my house, when it was decided to publish his Retaliation, and Johnson at the same time undertook to write an epitaph for our lamented friend, to whom we proposed to erect a monument by subsciiption in Westminster Abbey. This epitaph Johnson executed: but in the criticism, that was attempted against it, and in the Round-Robin signed at Beauclerc's house, I had no part. I had no acquaintance with that Gentleman; and was never in his house in my life.
Thus died Oliver Goldsmith in his chamber in the Temple at a period of life, when his genius was yet in its vigour, and fortune seemed disposed to smile upon him. I have heard Dr. Johnson relate with infinite humour the circumstance of his rescuing him from a ridiculous dilemma by the purchase money of his Vicar of Wakefield, which he sold on his behalf to Dodsley; and, as I think, for the sum of ten pounds only. He had run up a debt with his landlady for board and lodging of some few pounds, and was at his wit's-end how to wipe off the score and keep a roof over his head, except by closing with a very staggering proposal on her part, and taking his creditor to wife, whose charms were very far from alluring, whilst her demands were extremely urgent. In this crisis of his fate he was found by Johnson in the act of meditating on the melancholy alternative before him.
He showed Johnson his manuscript of The Vicar of Wakefield, but seemed to be without any plan, or even hope, of raising money upon the disposal of it: when Johnson cast his eye upon it, he discovered something that gave him hope, and immediately took it to Dodsley, who paid down the price abovementioned in ready money, and added an eventual condition upon its future sale. Johnson described the precautions he took in concealing the amount of the sum he had in hand, which he prudently administered to him by a guinea at a time. In the event he paid off the landlady's score, and redeemed the person of his friend from her embraces. Goldsmith had the joy of finding his ingenious work succeed beyond his hopes, and from that time began to place a confidence in the resources of his talents, which thenceforward enabled him to keep his station in society, and cultivate the friendship of many eminent persons, who, whilst they smiled at his eccentricities, esteemed him for his genius and good qualities.
Goldsmith and Burke had often violent disputes about politics; the one being a staunch Tory, and the other at that time a Whig and outrageous ante-courtier. One day he came into the room, when Goldsmith was there, full of ire and abuse against the late king, and went on in such a torrent of the most unqualified invective that Goldsmith threatened to leave the room. The other, however, persisted ; and Goldsmith went out, unable to bear it any longer. So much for Mr. Burke's pretended consistency and uniform loyalty! When Northcote first came to Sir Joshua, he wished very much to see Goldsmith; and one day Sir Joshua, on introducing him, asked why he had been so anxious to see him? 'Because,' said Northcote, 'he is a notable man.' This expression, notable, in its ordinary sense, was so contrary to Goldsmith's character, that they both burst out a laughing very heartily. Goldsmith was two thousand pounds in debt at the time of his death, which was hastened by his chagrin and distressed circumstances : and when ' She Stoops to Conquer,' was performed he was so choked all dinner time that he could not swallow a mouthful. A party went from Sir Joshua's to support it. The present title was not fixed
upon till that morning. Northcote went with Ralph, Sir Joshua's man, into the gallery to see how it went off: and after the second act there was no doubt of its success. Northcote says, people had a great notion of the literary parties at Sir Joshua's.
Mrs. G. had certainly a lock of Goldsmith's hair, for she and her sister (Miss Horneck) had wished to have some remembrance of him after his death; and though the coffin was nailed up, it was opened again at their request (such was the regard Goldsmith was known to have for them!), and a lock of his hair was cut off, which Mrs. G. still has. Northcote said, Goldsmith's death was the severest blow Sir Joshua ever received: he did not paint all that day. It was proposed to make a grand funeral for him, but Reynolds objected to this, as it would be over in a day, and said it would be better to lay by the money to erect a monument to him in Westminster Abbey; and he went himself and chose the spot. Goldsmith had begun another novel, of which he read the first chapter to the Miss Hornecks a little before his death. Northcote asked what I thought of the Vicar of Wakefield! And I answered, ' What everybody else did.' He said there was that mixture of the ludicrous and the pathetic running through it, which particularly delighted him; it gave a stronger resemblance to nature. He thought this justified Shakespeare in mingling up farce and tragedy together: life itself was a tragi-comedy. Instead of being pure, every thing was chequered. If you went to an execution, you would perhaps see au appleworaan in the greatest distress, because her stall was overturned, at which you could not help smiling. We then spoke of ' Retaliation,' and praised the character of Burke in particular as a masterpiece. Nothing that he had ever said or done but what was foretold in it: nor was he painted as the principal figure in the foreground with the partiality of a friend, or as the great man of the day, but with a background of history, showing both what he was and what he might have been. Northcote repeated some lines from the ' Traveller,' which were distin
guished by a beautiful transparency, by simplicity and originality. He confirmed Boswell's account of Goldsmith, as being about the middle height, rather clumsy, and tawdry in his dress.
Human nature is always the same. It was so with Johnson and Goldsmith. They would allow no one to have any merit but themselves. The very attempt was a piece of presumption, and a trespass upon their privileged rights. I remember a poem that came out, and that was sent to Sir Joshua: his servant Ralph had instructions to bring it in just after dinner. Goldsmith presently got hold of it, and seemed thrown into a rage before he had read a line of it. He then said, ' What wretched stuff is here! what c-rsed nonsense that is!' and kept all the while marking the passages with his thumb nail, as if he would cut them in pieces. At last Sir Joshua, who was provoked, interfered, and said. 'jNay, don't spoil my book, however.'
HAWKINS'S MEMOIRS OF JOHNSON.
Goldsmith is well known by his writings to have been a man of genius and of very fine parts: but of his character and general deportment it is the hardest task any one can undertake to give a description. I will, however, attempt it, trusting to be excused if, in the spirit of a faithful historian, I record as well his singularities as his merits.
There are certain memoirs of him extant, from which we learn that his inclination cooperating with his fortunes, which were but scanty, led him into a course of life little differing from vagrancy, that deprived him of the benefits of regular study; it however gratified his humour, stored his mind with ideas and some knowledge, which, when he became settled, he improved by various reading; yet, to all the graces of urbanity he was a stranger. With the greatest pretensions to polished manners he was rude, and when he most meant the contrary absurd. He affected Johnson's style and man