Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

few weeks afterwards, returning from the north, called at the hotel where he knew Mr. Goldsmith intended to reside. There he met him; when the amiable old man, for such he really was, told him that he had put his plan in execution ; had given himself as much of the appearance of poverty as he could with propriety, and thus proceeded to the shop of his brother Maurice, where he inquired for several articles, and then noticed the name over the door, asking if it had any connexion with the famous Dr. Goldsmith.

“I am his brother, his sole surviving brother," said Maurice.

“ What, then,” replied the stranger, “ is become of the others ?

Henry has long been dead; and poor Charles has not been heard of for many years.

“But suppose Charles were alive," said the stranger, “would his friends acknowledge him?"

“Oh yes!” replied Maurice, “gladly indeed!"
“He lives, then; but as poor as when he left you."

Maurice instantly leaped over his counter, hugged him in his arms, and, weeping with pleasure, cried “Welcome-welcome here you shall find a home and a brother."

It is needless to add that this denouement was perfectly agreeable to the stranger, who was then preparing to return to Jamaica to make his proposed family arrangements; but my friend having been engaged for the next twenty years in traversing the four quarters of the globe, being himself a wanderer, has never, since that period, had an opportunity of making inquiries into the welfare of the stranger, for whom he had, indeed, formed a great esteem, even on a few days' acquaintance.

Sir Joshua was much affected by the death of Goldsmith, to whom he had been a very sincere friend. He did not touch the pencil for that day, a circumstance most extraordinary for him, who passed no day without a line. He acted as executor, and managed, in the best manner, the confused state of the doctor's affairs. At first he intended, as I have already stated, to have made a grand funeral for him, assisted by several subscriptions to that intent, and to have buried him in the Abbey, his pall-bearers to have been Lord Shelburne, Lord Louth, Sir Joshua himself, Burke, Garrick, &c.; but, on second thoughts, he resolved to have him buried in the plainest and most private manner possible, observing, that the most pompous funerals are soon past and forgotten; and that it would be much more prudent to apply what money could be procured to the purpose of a more substantial and more lasting memorial of his departed friend, by a monument; and he was, accordingly, privately interred in the Temple burying ground.

Sir Joshua went himself to Westminster Abbey, and fixed upon VOL. II. New Series.


the place where Goldsmith's monument now stands, over a door in the Poet's Corner. He thought himself lucky in being able to find so conspicuous a situation for it, as there scarcely remained another so good.

Nollekens, the sculptor, was employed to make the monument, and Dr. Johnson composed the epitaph.

There is a very fine portrait, which is the only original one, of Dr. Goldsmith, now at Knowle, the seat of the Duke of Dorset, painted by Sir Joshua.

A lady, who was a great friend of Dr. Goldsmith, earnestly desired to have a lock of his hair to keep as a memorial of him; and his coffin was opened again, after it had been closed up, to procure this lock of hair from his head; this relic is still in the possession of the family, and is the only one of the kind which has been preserved of the doctor.

An observation of Dr. Beattie, respecting the deceased poet, in a letter to Mrs. Montagu, must not be passed over. “I am sorry for poor Goldsmith. There were sone things in his temper which I did not like; but I liked many things in his genius; and I was sorry to find, last summer, that he looked upon me as a person who seemed to stand between him and his interest. However, when next we meet, all this will be forgotten, and the jealousy of authors, which, Dr. Gregory used to say, was next to that of phy. sicians, will be no more.

Soon after Goldsmith's death, some people dining with Sir Joshua were commenting rather freely on some part of his works, which, in their opinion, neither discovered talent nor originality. To this Dr. Johnson listened, in his usual growling manner, for

some time: when, at length, his patience being exhausted, he syose, with great dignity, looked them full in the face, and ex

claimed, “ If nobody was suffered to abuse poor Goldy, but those who could write as well, he would have few censors.

Yet, on another occasion, soon after the death of Goldsmith, a lady of his acquaintance was condoling with Dr. Johnson on their loss, saying, “Poor Goldsmith! I am exceedingly sorry for him ; he was every man's friend !”

“No, madam,” answered Johnson," he was no man's friend !"

In this seemingly harsh sentence, however, he merely alluded to the careless and imprudent conduct of Goldsmith, as being no friend even to himself, and when that is the case, a man is rendered incapable of being of any essential service to any one else.

It has been generally circulated, and believed by many, that Goldsmith was a mere fool in conversation ; but, in truth, this has been greatly exaggerated by such as were really fools. In allusion to this notion, Mr. Horace Walpole, who admired bis wrie

tings, said he was “an inspired idiot," and Garrick described him as one,

- for shortness call'd Noll, Who wrote like an angel, but talk'd like poor Poll."

Sir Joshua Reynolds mentioned to Boswell that he frequently had heard Goldsmith talk warmly of the pleasure of being liked, and observe how hard it would be if literary excellence should preclude a man from that satisfaction, which he perceived it often did, from the envy which attended it; and, therefore, Sir Joshua was convinced, that he was intentionally more absurd, in order to lessen himself in social intercourse, trusting that his character would be sufficiently supported by his works. If it was his intention to appear absurd in company, he was often very successful. This, in my own opinion, was really the case; and I also think Sir Joshua was so sensible of the advantage of it, that he, yet in a much less degree, followed the same idea, as he never had a wish to impress his company with any awe of the great abilities with which lie was endowed, especially when in the society of those high in rank.

I have heard Sir Joshua say that he has frequently seen the whole company struck with an awful silence at the entrance of Goldsmith, but that Goldsmith has quickly dispelled the charm, by his boy ish and social manners, and he then has soon become the plaything and favourite of the company:

His epitaph in Westminster Abbey, written by Dr. Johnson, is a true character of the eccentric poet.

Among the various tributes to his memory, was one by Courtney Melmoth, (Mr. Pratt, I believe,) dedicated to Sir Joshua, “ who will naturally receive with kindness whatever is designed as a testimony of justice to a friend that is no more.” In this, the dedicator has well attempted to portray the feelings of Sic Joshua's heart.

Before I dismiss poor Goldsmith from the stage, it may be proper to notice another dedication to Sir Joshua, prefixed to that edition of his works published by Evans, in which he says


“I am happy in having your permission to inscribe to you this complete edition of the truly poetical works of your late ingenious friend, Oliver Goldsmith. They will prove a lasting monument of his genius. Every lover of science must deeply tament that this excellent writer, after long struggling with adversity, finished his mortal career just as his reputation was firmly established, and he had acquired the friendship of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, the Dean of Derry, Mr. Beauclerk, and Mr. Cumberland, names which adorn

and nation. It is, Sir, being merely an echo of the public voice, to celebrate your admirable productions,

• In which, to latest time, the artist lives.'

Had Goldsmith understood the art of painting, of which he modestly declares himself ignorant, his pen would have done justice to the merits of your pencil

. He chose a nobler theme, by declaring his ardent affection for the virtues of your heart. That you may long continue, Sir, the ornament of your country and the delight of your friends, is the sincere wish of your most obliged humble servant,

«T. Evans."


The churchyard of the convent of St. Alexander Neoski, at Petersburg, contains a heap of stones, said to have covered the tomb of the unfortunate Swizoslow, of whom they relate the following story

Russia, in its time, was a prey to intestine wars, and continuially plundered by the Poles, Swedes, Lithuanians, Tartars, and Tschoudes. The mansion of Boverow, in Russia, which had been the asylum for travellers formerly, was in those times formed into a castle, fortified and surrounded by lofty walls; the high placed windows were defended by iron bars. There a young beauty attended by her nurse and her maids, passed their time, which was to be interrupted only by the hand of a spouse, whom her father should choose to unite her to. Such was the life of the young Stephania, by the banks of the Ilmen. She was the daughter of an old and respectable warrior: here she lived unknowing and unknown to the world; never had she seen farther than the horizon, and from thence she saw the sun rise from the east to call her to her distaff. She was happy; she thought so, and said so, and her greatest pleasure was to add to the comfort of her father. Boris only seemed to live for her, having lost all the rest of his family by an incursion of the Tschoudes. Upon the holidays Stephania went to church in a neighbouring village. A coloured riband, with a garniture of rich pearl, served to fall over her ivory forehead, and her beautiful brown tresses. She was then seen by a young warrior, who came there to offer his prayers. The blushes of the young Stephania, and the turning away her eyes, soon announced to him her thoughts; but he had no hopes of entering the castle of Boris, neither could he ftatter himself that a re

spectable Boyard wonld give his daughter to a young man from the south of Russia, who had no other recommendation than his courage. But the war rekindling, Novogorod had not only fallen into the hands of the Tartars, but the hideous Swedes had attempted to take it; and it was now attacked by the Tschoudes, who were fired with a desire to carry terror, death, and slavery all through Russia. The Lithuanians were also united with the Swedes, and menaced that city. The Novogorodians heard of this famous league by the deputies of these barbarians, who, advancing from the north, summoned it to submit to a foreign yoke.

Alexander, Prince of Novogorod, assembled his warriors, who were all animated with a desire to combat their enemies. The imminent danger in which they stood only inflamed their courage, and these invincible troops, although but few in number, advanced to meet the Swedish army. Amongst the warriors in Alexander's suite was the valiant Boris. The danger of his country would not suffer him, notwithstanding his advanced age, to remain inactive. But how was it possible to leave the beautiful Stephania alone, in a solitary castle, without her defender, without friends to protect her in a country overrun with a horde of savages? He dressed her therefore in man's apparel, and calling her his adopted son, took her along with him. The unfortunate Swizoslow, that passionate undeclared lover, saw them quit the castle, begged leave to join them, and during their march was always near Boris. It was he who constantly chose his lodging, and made his bed of boughs; he opened not his mouth to Stephania, whom he knew notwithstanding her disguise; but his looks, less discreet, spoke for him. At length the armies are in sight of each other : the Russians fell upon the Scandinavians as the eagles upon their prey: six brave warriors advanced with their victorious bands. Boris was one of the number; with his own hands he fired the Swedish camp, and seized the royal standard. Swizoslow and his Stephania, with her love united to the ties of consanguinity, assisted to help and defend him. Upon a sudden, Swizoslow, whose youthful courage made him advance in pursuit, perceived that he had left behind his fellow soldier, Boris. He soon returned in search of him, and found him surrounded by some of the enemy, who had rallied before he could join him. The horse of Boris, wounded in several places, had fallen with him, and poor Stephania was imploring pity and mercy of the enemy. The Swedes, seeing the Russians come up, were carrying their prisoner along with them. Swizoslow pursued, and coming up with them, found Boris upon the ground: he immediately lifted him up, and assisted him to walk, as he perceived he was only stunned by the fall of his horse, and undertook to deliver her who was so dear to them both. The old warrior could

« AnteriorContinuar »