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would at once obtain all the aid his situation re- "return home immediately. You can never do withquired. When on the road to the house of his out the assistance of your friends; and if you keep friend, a poor woman with eight children, whose them longer in suspense and alarm by remaining husband had been thrown into jail for rent, threw away, you will only widen the breach which your herself in his way and implored for relief. The rashness must have already occasioned, and perhaps feelings of humanity being ever most easily awak-induce them to throw you off altogether." "But," ened in Oliver's bosom, he gave her all that re- rejoined Oliver, "how am I to get on without momained in his purse, and trusted his own wants to ney? I told you I had not a shilling left, and it is the expected liberality of his old fellow-collegian. quite impossible for me to proceed on the journey, This dear friend, whose promised hospitalities unless you should be so obliging as to lend me a were so securely relied on, received him with much guinea for the purpose." Here again his friend's apparent satisfaction, and only appeared anxious countenance fell. He pleaded his inability to lend, to learn the motive which could have prompted in consequence of having spent all his ready cash this chance visit. Charmed with this seeming cor- during his late illness, interlarding this apology diality with which he was received, Oliver gave with many sage aphorisms on the disadvantages of him an artless and honest account of his whole ex- borrowing, and the sin of running into debt. "But pedition; and did not even conceal the offence my dear fellow," resumed he, "I'll tell you how which his departure must have given to his friends. you may get over the difficulty. May you not His good host listened with profound attention, sell the little horse you brought with you last and appeared to take so much interest in the detail night? The price of it will be sufficient for all of our poet's adventures, that he was at length in- your expenses till you arrive among your friends, duced to disclose the immediate object of his visit. and, in the mean time, I think I can furnish you This chanced to be the true touch-stone for try- with another to help you forward on the jouring the liberality of so honest a friend. A profound ney." Oliver could discover no objection to a plan sigh, and querulous declamation on his own in-so feasible, and therefore agreed to it at once; but firm state of health, was the only return to his hint when he asked for a sight of the steed which was for assistance. When pressed a little further, this to carry him home, his host, with solemn gravity, kind friend drily remarked, that for his part he drew from under the bed a stout oaken staff, which could not understand how some people got them- he presented to him with a grin of self-approbaselves into scrapes; that on any other occasion he tion. Our poor poet now lost all patience, and was would have been happy to accommodate an old just about to snatch it from him, and apply it to comrade, but really he had been lately so very ill, his pate, when a loud rap announced a visiter. A and was, even now, in such a sickly condition, person of interesting appearance was immediately that it was very inconvenient to entertain compa-afterwards ushered into the room, and, when the usny of any kind. Besides, he could not well ask a ual compliments were over, Oliver was presented to person in health to share in his slops and milk him by his host, as if nothing had happened, and diet. If, however, Mr. Goldsmith could think of described as the learned and ingenious young man putting up with the family fare, such as it was, he would be made welcome; at the same time he The agreeable manners of this gentleman soon must apprise him that it might not soon be got gave an interesting turn to the conversation. Harready. The astonishment and dismay of our poet mony appeared to be once more restored between at the conclusion of this speech was sufficiently Oliver and his host, and the stranger invited them visible in his lengthened visage. Nothing but the both to dine with him the following day. This utter emptiness of his purse, and his great distance was not acceded to on the part of the poet, withfrom home, could have induced him to pocket the out considerable reluctance; but the gentleman's insult, or accept so inhospitable an invitation. No pressing solicitations prevailed on him to consent. better, however, could be made of it in his present circumstances; so without showing his chagrin, he good-humouredly partook of a miserable supper of brown bread and butter milk, served up at a late hour by a miserable looking old woman, the fit handmaid of so miserable a master.
of whom he had heard so much while at college.
The hospitality and kindness displayed at this person's table was a striking contrast to the penury and meanness exhibited by his fellow-collegian, and Oliver could hardly refrain from making some sarcastic remarks on the difference. The hints on this subject which were occasionally hazarded by Notwithstanding the base colours in which our the poet, led the gentleman to suspect that the two poet's host had exhibited himself, the former had too friends were not on the most cordial terms. He much good-nature to harbour resentment. When was therefore induced to invite our poet to spend a they met in the morning, therefore, he entered fa- few days at his house. An invitation of this kind, marly into conversation, and even condescended so opportunely and handsomely given, was a forto ask what he would advise him to do in his pre-tunate circumstance for Oliver. He did not hesisent difficulty. "My dear fellow," said his host, tate a moment to accept it, and at parting with his
dear fellow-collegian, archly recommended to him deposited his trunk in lodgings than he sallied out to take good care of the steed kept at so much ex- to see the town. He rambled about until a late pense for the use of his friends; and, of all things, hour, and when he felt disposed to turn his face to beware of surfeiting them with a milk diet. To homeward, recollected for the first time that he this sarcasm the other only replied by a sneer at knew neither the name nor address of his landlady. the poet's poverty and improvident disposition. In this dilemma, as he was wandering at random, Their host being well acquainted with the charac-he fortunately met with the porter who had carried ter of his neighbour, seemed, when Oliver after- his baggage, and who now served him as a guide. wards recounted to him all the circumstances that In the University of Edinburgh, at that time be had taken place, to be more amused than surprised coming famous as a school of medicine, he attendat the detail. ed the lectures of the celebrated Monro, and the In the house of this new friend Goldsmith expe- other professors in medical science. What prorienced the most hospitable entertainment for seve-gress he made in this study, however, is not parral days. Two beautiful daughters, as well as the ticularly ascertained. Riotous conviviality, and bost himself, were emulous in finding amusement tavern adjournments, whether for business or pleafor their guest during his stay; and when about to sure, were at that time characteristic of Edinburgh depart, he was offered money to defray the expense society; and it does not appear that our poet was of his journey, and a servant to attend him on able to resist the general contagion. His attention horseback. The servant and horse he declined, to his studies was far from being regular. Dissibut accepted of a loan of three half-guineas; and pation and play allured him from the class-room, with sentiments of the deepest respect and grati- and his health and his purse suffered in consetude, took leave of his benevolent host. quence. About this period, his contemporaries have He now pursued his journey without any fur-reported, that he sometimes also sacrificed to the ther interruption, and arrived at his mother's house Muses, but of these early effusions no specimen in the sudden and unexpected manner already nar-seems to have been preserved. rated. Once more reconciled to his friends, he did The social and good-humoured qualities of our not fail to transmit to his kind benefactor suitable poet appear to have made him a general favourite acknowledgments expressive of the grateful sense with his fellow-students. He was a keen particihe entertained of such unlooked-for and generous pator in all their wild pranks and humorous frolics. hospitality. He was also a prime table companion: always reaIt was now considered essential that he should dy with story, anecdote, or song, though it must be fix on a profession, the pursuit of which might di-confessed that in such exhibitions he was far from vert him from idle and expensive habits. After being successful. His narrations were too frequentvarious consultations, it was determined that he ly accompanied by grimace or buffoonery; nor was should begin the study of the law, and his uncle his wit of that chaste and classical kind that might Contarine agreed to advance the necessary funds. have been expected from his education. On the Provided with money for the expenses of his jour-contrary, it was generally forced, coarse, and unney, and to enable him to enter on his studies at natural. All his oral communications partook of the Temple, Oliver set out for London, but his these defects; and it is a fact not less true than sincustomary imprudence again interfered. He fell gular, that even in after life he was never exempt by accident into the company of a sharper in Dub-from them, although accustomed to the politest lilin, and being tempted to engage in play, was soon terary society. plundered of all his money, and again left to find his way home without a shilling in his pocket.
When conversing on this feature in our poet's character, his friend Dr. Johnson many years afterHis friends now almost despaired of him. Not-wards, justly, but perhaps rather severely, remarkwithstanding the brilliancy of his natural talents, ed, "The misfortune of Goldsmith in conversation it was feared that his habitual carelessness and im- is this: he goes on without knowing how he is to get providence would form a bar to his success in any off. His genius is great, but his knowledge is small. profession whatever. That it would be vain for As they say of a generous man, it is a pity he is him to pursue the study of the law with such dis- not rich, we may say of Goldsmith, it is a pity he is positions was obvious; and, of course, it was neces- not knowing: he would not keep his knowledge to sary once more to cast about for a profession. Af himself."
ter various consultations, therefore, it was finally On another occasion, Johnson being called on for determined that physic should be his future pur- his opinion on the same subject, took a similar view suit; and his kind uncle, who had been prevailed of it, with much critical acumen, and all his usual on to pardon him once more, took him again under power of amplification. "Goldsmith," said he, his protection, and at last fixed him at Edinburgh "should not be for ever attempting to shine in conas a student of medicine, about the end of the year versation; he has not temper for it, he is so much 1752. On his arrival in that city, he had no sooner mortified when he fails. A game of jokes is com
posed partly of skill, partly of chance; a man may | The ship made a tolerable appearance, and as anobe beat at times by one who has not the tenth part ther inducement, I was let to know that six agreeof his wit. Now Goldsmith's putting himself able passengers were to be my company. Well, against another, is like a man laying a hundred to we were but two days at sea when a storm drove one, who can not spare the hundred. It is not us into a city of England, called Newcastle-uponworth a man's while. A man should not lay a Tyne. We all went ashore to refresh us, after the hundred to one, unless he can easily spare it; though fatigue of our voyage. Seven men and I were one he has a hundred chances for him, he can get but day on shore, and on the following evening, as we a guinea, and he may lose a hundred. Goldsmith were all very merry, the room door bursts open, enis in this state: when he contends, if he get the bet-ters a sergeant and twelve grenadiers, with their ter, it is a very little addition to a man of his literary bayonets screwed, and puts us all under the king's reputation; if he do not get the better, he is misera-arrest. It seems my company were Scotchmen in bly vexed." the French service, and had been in Scotland to Though now arrived at an age when reflection enlist soldiers for the French army. I endeavoured an passing objects and events might have been oc-all I could to prove my innocence; however, I recasionally elicited, yet it does not appear that any mained in prison with the rest a fortnight, and with thing of that kind worth preserving occurred in our difficulty got off even then. Dear sir, keep this all poet's correspondence with his friends. The only a secret, or at least say it was for debt; for if it were circumstance which seems to have excited particu- once known at the university, I should hardly get lar remark was the economy of the Scotch in cook- degree. But hear how Providence interposed in ing and eating; and of this he would sometimes give my favour; the ship was gone on to Bordeaux berather a ludicrous account. His first landlady, he fore I got from prison, and was wrecked at the used to say, nearly starved him out of his lodgings; mouth of the Garonne, and every one of the crew and the second, though somewhat more liberal, was were drowned. It happened the last great storm. still a wonderful adept in the art of saving. When There was a ship at that time ready for Holland; permitted to put forth all her talents in this way, I embarked, and in nine days, thank my God, I arshe would perform surprising feats. A single loin rived safe at Rotterdam, whence I travelled by land of mutton would sometimes be made to serve our to Leyden, and whence I now write."
friends with a whimsical account of the costume and manners of the Hollanders; which we also extract for the entertainment of the reader.
poet and two fellow-students a whole week; a bran- He proceeds in the same letter to amuse his dered chop was served up one day, a fried steak another, collops with onion sauce a third, and so on, till the fleshy parts were quite consumed, when finally a dish of broth was made from the well-picked bones on the seventh day, and the landlady rested from her labours.
"You may expect some account of this country; and though I am not well qualified for such an undertaking, yet I shall endeavour to satisfy some After he had attended some courses of lectures at part of your expectations. Nothing surprised me Edinburgh, it was thought advisable that he should more than the books every day published descripcomplete his medical studies at the University of tive of the manners of this country. Any young Leyden, then celebrated as a great medical school: man who takes it into his head to publish his travels, his uncle Contarine furnishing the funds. Gold-visits the countries he intends to describe; passes smith accordingly looked out at Leith for a vessel through them with as much inattention as his valet for Holland; but finding one about to sail for Bor- de chambre; and consequently, not having a fund deaux, with his usual eccentricity engaged a pas- himself to fill a volume, he applies to those who sage. He found himself, however, in an awkward wrote before him, and gives us the manners of a dilemma about the time of embarkation. He had country; not as he must have seen them, but such become security to a tailor for a fellow-student in a as they might have been fifty years before. The considerable amount. The tailor arrested him for modern Dutchman is quite a different creature from debt; and, but for the interference of Mr. Lachlanj him of former times: he in every thing imitates a Maclane and Dr. Sleigh, he would have been Frenchman, but in his easy disengaged air, which thrown into prison. Rescued from this difficulty, is the result of keeping polite company. The he embarked, but encountered a storm, and a de-Dutchman is vastly ceremonious, and is perhaps tention, and an escape from shipwreck, and finally exactly what a Frenchman might have been in the arrived safe at Rotterdam, instead of Bordeaux; all reign of Louis XIV. Such are the better bred. which is thus related by himself, in an extract from But the downright Hollander is one of the oldest a letter, without date, to his generous uncle Conta- figures in nature. Upon a head of lank hair he rine. wears a half-cocked narrow hat, laced with black "Some time after the receipt of your last, I em-riband; no coat, but seven waistcoats, and nine pair barked for Bordeaux, on board a Scotch ship, call- of breeches; so that his hips reach almost up to his ed the St. Andrew, Captain John Wall, master. arm-pits. This well-clothed vegetable is now fit to
see company, or make love.
But what a pleasing thing can equal its beauty. Wherever I turn my creature is the object of his appetite? Why, she eyes, fine houses, elegant gardens, statues, grottos, wears a large fur cap, with a deal of Flanders lace; vistas, presented themselves; but when you enter and for every pair of breeches he carries, she puts their towns you are charmed beyond description on two petticoats. No misery is to be seen here; every one is useful
"A Dutch lady burns nothing about her phleg-ly employed. matic admirer but his tobacco. You must know,
"Scotland and this country bear the highest sir, every woman carries in her hand a stove with contrast. There, hills and rocks intercept every coals in it, which, when she sits, she snugs under prospect; here, 'tis all a continued plain. There her petticoats; and at this chimney dozing Strephon you might see a well dressed duchess issuing from lights his pipe. I take it that this continual smok- a dirty close; and here a dirty Dutchman inhabiting is what gives the man the ruddy healthful com- ing a palace. The Scotch may be compared to a plexion he generally wears, by draining his super-tulip planted in dung; but I never see a Dutchman fluous moisture; while the woman, deprived of this in his own house, but I think of a magnificent amusement, overflows with such viscidities as tint Egyptian temple dedicated to an ox. the complexion, and give that paleness of visage 'Physic is by no means taught here so well as which low fenny grounds and moist air conspire to in Edinburgh; and in all Leyden there are but cause. A Dutch woman and a Scotch will bear four British students, owing to all necessaries being an opposition. The one is pale and fat, the other so extremely dear, and the professors so very lazy lean and ruddy. The one walks as if she were (the chemical professor excepted,) that we don't straddling after a go-cart, and the other takes too much care to come hither. I am not certain how masculine a stride. I shall not endeavour to de-long my stay here may be; however, I expect to prive either country of its share of beauty; but have the happiness of seeing you at Kilmore, if I must say, that of all objects on this earth, an En- can, next March." glish farmer's daughter is most charming. Every While resident in Leyden, he attended the lecwoman there is a complete beauty, while the higher tures of Gaubius on chemistry, and those of Albiclass of women want many of the requisites to nus on anatomy. In the letters of Goldsmith to make them even tolerable. Their pleasures here his uncle, Gaubius is the only professor of whose are very dull, though very various. You may talents he gives a favourable opinion.* Of all the smoke, you may doze, you may go to the Italian other professors he seems to have formed rather a comedy, as good an amusement as either of the for- contemptuous estimate; and with regard to the inmer. This entertainment always brings in Har- habitants in general, his remarks are by no means lequin, who is generally a magician; and in conse of a laudatory description. But to appreciate the quence of his diabolical art, performs a thousand characters of men, and describe the manners of a tricks on the rest of the persons of the drama, who people with accuracy, require the nicest discrimiare all fools. I have seen the pit in a roar of laugh- nation, and much knowledge of the world. On ter at this humour, when with his sword he touches such subjects, therefore, the opinions of our poet, the glass from which another was drinking. 'Twas at this early period of his life, are to be the less renot his face they laughed at, for that was masked: garded. His Dutch characteristics can only be they must have seen something vastly queer in the deemed good humoured caricatures, and probably wooden sword, that neither I, nor you, sir, were were drawn as such, merely for the amusement of you there, could see. his friends in Ireland.
"In winter, when their canals are frozen, every It happened, unfortunately for Goldsmith, that house is forsaken, and all people are on the ice; one of his most dangerous propensities met with sleds drawn by horses, and skating, are at that too much encouragement during his stay in Holtime the reigning amusements. They have boats land. The people of that country are much addicthere that slide on the ice, and are driven by the ed to games of chance. Gaming tables are to be winds. When they spread all their sails they go met with in every tavern, and at every place of more than a mile and a half a minute, and their amusement. Goldsmith, unable to resist the conmotion is so rapid, the eye can scarcely accompany tagion of example, with his usual facility sailed them. Their ordinary manner of travelling is very with the stream; and fortune, according to custom, cheap and very convenient. They sail in covered alternately greeted him with smiles and frowns. boats drawn by horses; and in these you are sure His friend, Dr. Ellis,t who was then also studyto meet people of all nations. Here the Dutch ing at Leyden, used to relate, that on one occasion slumber, the French chatter, and the English play he came to him with much exultation, and countat cards. Any man who likes company, may have
them to his taste. For my part, I generally de- * Gaubius died in 1780, at the age of 75, leaving a splendid tached myself from all society, and was wholly reputation. He was the favourite pupil of Boerhaave. and taken up in observing the face of the country. No
wrote several learned and ingenious works.
↑ Afterwards clerk of the Irish House of Commons.
ed out a considerable sum which he had won the uncle was an amateur of such rarities. With his preceding evening. "Perceiving that this tempo- usual inconsiderateness he immediately concluded rary success," said Ellis, "was only fanning the a bargain for a parcel of the roots, never reflecting flame of a ruinous passion, I was at some pains to on his own limited means, or the purpose for which point out to him the destructive consequences of his money had been furnished. This absurd and indulging so dangerous a propensity. I exhorted extravagant purchase nearly exhausted the fund him, since fortune had for once been unusually he had already received from his friend Ellis, and kind, to rest satisfied with his present gains, and it is not unlikely that the gaming table gleaned the showed, that if he set apart the money now in his little that remained; for it has often been asserted, hands, he would be able to complete his studies that after his magnificent speculation in tulip roots without further assistance from his friends. Gold- he actually set out upon his travels with only one smith, who could perceive, though he could not al- clean shirt, and without a shilling in his pocket. ways pursue the right path, admitted all the truth When this expedition was projected, it is most af my observations, seemed grateful for my advice, likely that nothing more was intended than a short and promised for the future strictly to adhere to it." excursion into Belgium and France. The passion The votary of play, however, is never to be so for travel, however, which had so long lain dormant asily cured. Reason and ridicule are equally im- in his mind was now thoroughly awakened. potent against that unhappy passion. To those Blessed with a good constitution, an adventurous infected with it, the charms of the gaming table spirit, and with that thoughtless, or perhaps happy may be said to be omnipotent. Soon after this, he disposition, which takes no care for to-morrow, he once more gave himself up to it without control, continued his travels for a long time in spite of in and not only lost all he had lately won, but was numerable privations; and neither poverty, fatigue, stripped of every shilling he had in the world. In nor hardship, seems to have damped his ardour, or this emergency he was obliged to have recourse to interrupted his progress. It is a well authenticated Dr. Ellis for advice. His friend perceived that ad- fact, that he performed the tour of Europe on foot, monition was useless, and that so long as he re-and that he finished the arduous and singular unmained within reach of the vortex of play, his dertaking without any other means than was obgambling propensities could never be restrained. tained by an occasional display of his scholarship, It was therefore determined that he ought to quit or a tune upon his flute. Holland; and with a view to his further improve
It is much to be regretted that no account of his ment, it was suggested that he should visit some tour was ever given to the world by himself. The of the neighbouring countries before returning to oral communications which he sometimes gave to his own. He readily acceded to this proposal, and friends, are said to have borne some resemnotwithstanding the paucity of his means, resolved blance to the story of the Wanderer in the Vicar of to pursue it without delay. Ellis, however, kindly Wakefield. The interest they excited did not arise took his wants into consideration, and agreed to so much from the novelty of the incidents as from accommodate him with a sum of money to carry the fine vein of moral reflection interwoven with his plan into execution; but in this, as in other in- the narrative. Like the Wanderer, he possessed a stances, his heedless improvidence interfered to sufficient portion of ancient literature, some taste render his friend's generosity abortive. When about in music, and a tolerable knowledge of the French to set out on his journey, accident or curiosity led language. His learning was a passport to the hoshim into a garden at Leyden, where the choicest pitalities of the literary and religious establishflowers were reared for sale. In consequence of an ments on the continent, and the music of his flute unaccountable mania for flowers having at one generally procured him a welcome reception at the "Whenever I aptime spread itself over Holland, an extensive trade cottages of the peasantry. in flower roots became universally prevalent in that proached a peasant's house towards night-fall," he country, and at this period the Dutch florists were used to say, "I played one of my merriest tunes, the most celebrated in Europe.* Fortunes and and that procured me not only a lodging, but sublaw suits innumerable had been lost and won in sistence for the next day; but, in truth;" his conthis singular traffic; and though the rage had now stant expression, "I must own, whenever I attemptgreatly subsided, flower roots still bore a considera-ed to entertain persons of a higher rank, they alble value. Unluckily, while rambling through the ways thought my performance odious, and never garden at Leyden, Goldsmith recollected that his made me any return for my endeavours to please them." The hearty good-will, however, with
⚫ It was the celebrated tulip mania. For a tulip root, known which he was received by the harmless peasantry, by the name of Semper Augustus, 5501. sterling was given;
and for other tulip roots less rare, various prices were given, seems to fiera one hundred to four hundred guineas. This madness the rich. raged in Holland for many years, till at length the State in- upon his erfered, and a law was enacted which put a stop to the trade. |
have atoned to him for the disregard of How much their simple manners won affections, may be discovered from the fine