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LIFE AT EDGEWARE.
one, stand musing with his back to the fire, and then hurry off again to his room, no doubt to commit to paper some thought which had struck him.
Sometimes he strolled about the fields, or was to be seen loitering and reading and musing under the hedges. He was subject to fits of wakefulness and read much in bed ; if not disposed to read, he still kept the candle burning; if he wished to extinguish it, and it was out of his reach, he flung his slipper at it, which would be found in the morning near the overturned candlestick and daubed with grease. He was noted here, as every where else, for his charitable feelings. No beggar applied to him in vain, and he evinced on all occasions great commiseration for the poor.
He had the use of the parlor to receive and entertain company, and was visited by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Hugh Boyd, the reputed author of Junius, Sir William Chambers, and other distinguished characters. He gave occasionally, though rarely, a dinner party; and on one occasion, when his guests were detained by a thunder shower, he got up a dance, and carried the merriment late into the night.
As usual, he was the promoter of hilarity among the young, and at one time took the children of the house to see a company of strolling players at Hendon. The greatest amusement to the party, however, was derived from his own jokes on the road and his comments on the performance, which produced infinite laughter among his youthful companions.
Near to his rural retreat at Edgeware, a Mr. Seguin, an Irish merchant, of literary tastes, had country quarters for his family, where Goldsmith was always welcome. In this family he would indulge in playful and even grotesque
humor, and was ready for any thing-conversation, music, or a game of romps. He prided himself upon his dancing, and would walk a minuet with Mrs. Seguin, to the infinite amusement of herself and the children, whose shouts of laughter he bore with perfect good-humor. He would sing Irish songs, and the Scotch ballad of Johnny Armstrong. He took the lead in the children's sports of blind man's buff, hunt the slipper, &c. or in their games at cards, and was the most noisy of the party, affecting to cheat and to be excessively eager to win; while with children of smaller size he would turn the hind part of his wig before, and play all kinds of tricks to amuse them.
One word as to his musical skill and his performance on the flute, which comes up so invariably in all his fireside revels. He really knew nothing of music scientifically; he had a good ear, and may have played sweetly; but we are told he could not read a note of music. Roubillac, the statuary, once played a trick upon him in this respect. He pretended to score down an air as the poet played it, but put down crotchets and semibreves at random. When he had finished, Goldsmith cast his eyes over it and pronounced it correct! It is possible that his execution in music was like his style in writing; in sweetness and melody he may have snatched a grace beyond the reach of art!
He was at all times a capital companion for children, and knew how to fall in with their humors. “I little thought,” said Miss Hawkins, the woman grown, “what I should have to boast, when Goldsmith taught me to play Jack and Jill by two bits of paper on his fingers.” He entertained Mrs. Garrick, we are told, with a whole budget of stories and songs; delivered the Chimney Sweep with exquisite taste as a solo; and performed a duet with Garrick of Old Rose and Burn the Bellows.
“I was only five years old,” says the late George Colman, "when Goldsmith one evening when drinking coffee with my father, took me on his knee and began to play with me,
which amiable act I returned with a very smart slap in the face; it must have been a tingler, for I left the marks of my little spiteful paw upon his cheek. This infantile outrage was followed by summary justice, and I was locked up by my father in an adjoining room, to undergo solitary imprisonment in the dark. Here I began to howl and scream most abominably. At length a friend appeared to extricate me from jeopardy; it was the goodnatured doctor himself, with a lighted candle in his hand, and a smile upon his countenance, which was still partially red from the effects of my petulance. I sulked and sobbed, and he fondled and soothed until I began to brighten. He seized the propitious moment, placed three hats upon the carpet, and a shilling under
the shillings, he told me, were England, France, and Spain. "Hey, presto, cockolorum ! cried the doctor, and, lo! on uncovering the shillings, they were all found congregated under
I was no politician at the time, and therefore might not have wondered at the sudden revolution which brought England, France, and Spain all under one crown; but, as I was also no conjurer, it amazed me beyond measure. From that time, whenever the doctor came to visit my father,
“ I pluck'd his gown to share the good man's smile ;"
a game of romps constantly ensued, and we were always cordia) friends and merry playfellows."
Although Goldsmith made the Edgeware farmhouse his head quarters for the summer, he would absent himself for weeks at a time on visits to Mr. Cradock, Lord Clare, and Mr. Langton, at their country-seats. He would often visit town, also, to dine and partake of the public amusements. On one occasion he accompanied Edmund Burke to witness a performance of the Italian Fantoccini or Puppets, in Panton-street; an exhibition which had hit the caprice of the town, and was in great vogue. The puppets were set in motion by wires, so well concealed as to be with difficulty detected. Boswell, with his usual obtuseness with respect to Goldsmith, accuses him of being jealous of the puppets! “When Burke," said he, "praised the dexterity with which one of them tossed a pike,” 'Pshaw,' said Goldsmith with some warmth, 'I can do it better myself.'” “The same evening,” adds Boswell, “ when supping at Burke's lodgings, he broke his shin by attempting to exhibit to the company how much better he could jump over a stick than the puppets."
Goldsmith jealous of puppets! This even passes in absurdity Boswell's charge upon him of being jealous of the beauty of the two Miss Hornecks.
The Panton-street puppets were destined to be a source of further amusement to the town, and of annoyance to the little autocrat of the stage. Foote, the Aristophanes of the English drama, who was always on the alert to turn every subject of popular excitement to account, seeing the success of the Fantoccini, gave out that he should produce a Primitive Puppet-show at the Haymarket, to be entitled The Handsome Chambermaid, or Piety in Pattens: intended to burlesque the sentimental comedy which Garrick still maintained at Drury-Lane. The idea of a play to be performed in a regular theatre by puppets, excited the curiosity and talk of the town. “Will your puppets be as large as life, Mr. Foote ?" demanded a lady of rank. Oh, no, my lady;" replied Foote, “ not much larger than Garrick."
DISSIPATION AND DEBTS.
Broken health.—Dissipation and debts.—The Irish widow.—Practical jokes.
Scrub.—A misquoted pun.—Malagrida.—Golds.nith proved to be a fool.Distressed ballad singers.—The Poet at Ranelagh.
GOLDSMITH returned to town in the autumn (1772), with his health much disordered. His close fits of sedentary application, during which he in a manner tied himself to the mast, had laid the seeds of a lurking malady in his system, and produced a severe illness in the course of the summer. Town life was not favorable to the health either of body or mind. He could not resist the siren voice of temptation, which, now that he had be. come a notoriety, assailed him on every side. Accordingly we find him launching away in a career of social dissipation; dining and supping out; at clubs, at routs, at theatres; he is a guest with Johnson at the Thrales, and an object of Mrs. Thrale's lively sallies; he is a lion at Mrs. Vesey's and Mrs. Montagu's, where some of the high-bred blue-stockings pronounce him a “ wild genius," and others, peradventure, a “wild Irishman.” In the meantime his pecuniary difficulties are increasing upon him, conflicting with his proneness to pleasure and expense, and contributing by the harassment of his mind to the wear and tear of his constitution. His Animated Nature, though not finished, has been entirely paid for, and the money spent. The money ad