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cause it made him 'unco thoughtful o' his wife and bonnie Inverary.' But now to be serious, let me ask myself what gives me a wish to see Ireland again? The country is a fine one perhaps? No. There are good company in Ireland 1 No; the conversation there is generally made up of a smutty toast, or a bawdy song. The vivacity supported by some humble cousin, who has just folly enough to earn his dinner. Then perhaps there is more wit and learning among the Irish? Oh! Lord! no! There has been more money spent in the encouragement of the Podoreen mare there in one season, than given in rewards to learned men since the time of Usher. All their productions in learning amount to perhaps a translation, or a few tracts in divinity, and all their productions in wit to just nothing at all. Why the plague then so fond of Ireland? Then all at once, because you my dear friend, and a few men, who are exceptions to the general picture, have a residence there. This it is that gives me all the pangs I feel in separation. I confess I carry this spirit sometimes to the souring the pleasures I at present possess. If I go to the opera where Signora Columba pours out all the mazes of melody, I sit and sigh for Lishoy fireside, and Johnny Armstrong's last good night from Peggy Golden.13 If I climb Flanstead Hill,
13 A person of this name living at Lishoy in 1811. See the Rev. R. H. Newell's ed. of Goldsmith, p. 64.
than where nature never exhibited a more magnificent prospect, I confess it fine, but then I had rather be placed on the Little Mount before Lishoy gate, and then take in, to me, the most pleasing horizon in nature. Before Charles came hither, my thoughts sometimes found refuge from severe studies among my friends in Ireland. I fancied strange revolutions at home; but I find it was the rapidity of my own motion that gave an imaginary one to objects really at rest. No alterations there. Some friends he tells me are still lean, but very rich; others very fat, but still very poor. Nay, all the news I hear of you is, that you and Mrs. Hodson sometimes sally out in visits among the neighbours, and sometimes make a migration from the blue bed to the brown. I could from my heart wish that you and she, and Lishoy, and Ballymahon, and all of you would fairly make a migration into Middlesex; though upon second thoughts this might be attended with a few inconveniences. Therefore, as the mountain will not come to Mahomet, why Mahomet shall go to the mountain; or to speak plain English, as you cannot conveniently pay me a visit, if next summer I can contrive to be absent six weeks from London, I shall spend three of them among my friends in Ireland; but first believe me, my design is purely to visit, and neither to cut a figure, nor to levy contributions; neither to excite envy, nor to solicit favour. In fact, my circumstances are adapted to neither. I am too poor to be gazed at, and too rich to need assistance.
You see, dear Dan, how long I have been talking about myself, but attribute my vanity to my affection, as every man is fond of himself, and I consider you as a second self, I imagine you will consequently be pleased with these instances of egotism.
My dear sir, these things give me real uneasiness, and I could wish to redress them. But at present there is hardly a thing done in Europe in which I am not a debtor. I have already discharged my most threatening and pressing demands, for we must be just before we can be grateful. For the rest I need not say, (you know I am)
Your affectionate kinsman,
Temple Exchange Coffee House, near Temple Bar, where you may direct an answer, December 27, 1757.
Several of Goldsmith's fellow students were now resident in London; one who was afterwards eminent in the medical profession, used to give the following account of our author's first interview with him, in the metropolis.
"From the time of Goldsmith's leaving Edinburgh in the year 1754, I never saw him till the year 1756, when I was in London, attending the hospitals, and lectures. Early in January he called upon me one morning before I was up,and on my entering the room, I recognized my old acquaintance, dressed in a rusty full brimmed black suit, with his pockets full of papers, which instantly reminded me of the poet in Garrick's farce of Lethe. After we had finished our breakfast, he drew from his pockets part of a tragedy, which he said he had brought for my correction. In vain I pleaded inability, when he began to read, and every part on which I expressed a doubt as to the propriety, was immediately blotted out. I then more earnestly pressed him not to trust to my judgment, but to take the opinions of persons better qualified to decide on dramatic compositions. He now told me that he had submitted his production, so far as he had written, to Mr. Richardson, the author of Clarissa, on which I peremptorily declined offering another criticism on the performance. The name and subject of the tragedy have unfortunately escaped my memory, neither do I recollect with exactness, how much he had written, though I am inclined to believe that he had not completed the third act. I never heard whether he afterwards finished it. In the visit, I remember his relating a strange Quixotic scheme he had in contemplation, of going to decipher the inscriptions on theWritten Mountains,14 though he was altogether ignorant of Arabic, or the language in which they might be supposed to be written. The salary of £300 per annum, which had been left for the purpose, was the temptation."
Goldsmith's plan of a journey to decipher the characters on the Written Mountains was too absurd to be long mentioned even by him: and from this lofty and ambitious flight into the deserts of Arabia, he settled down, more wisely than he was wont, into the management of a classical school at Peckham, which had become vacant by Dr. Milne's illness.15 So well did he acquit him
14 These inscriptions are on the Wady Mekatteb, and on the Djebal Serbal. Burckhardt thinks they were the work of Egyptian Christians, or Jews during the first centuries of our aira. See his Life prefixed to Nubia, p. lxvii, also his Travels in Syria, p. 606, 613. See a facsimile of an inscription on a rock in the Wady El Hazzeb, similar to these in the Wady Mekatteb, p. 478, 581. The rocks are covered with these inscriptions for nearly two leagues and a half. To copy them would occupy a skilful draftsman six or eight days. Some are on rocks, twelve, or fifteen feet high.—See also Niebuhr, vol i. p. 50. Irby and Mangle's Travels, p. 413. Buckingham's Travels among the Arab Tribes, vol. i. p. 98. Notes of Sir F. Henniker on Egypt and Syria. They all consist of short lines, written from right to left.
18 It is said that on the death of Dr. Milne, in 1760, Goldsmith undertook the superintendance of the school for the widow; who allowed him £20 a year, out of which he gave so liberally to objects in distress, that his salary was spent before it became due. This induced Mrs. Milne to say to