« הקודםהמשך »
DINNER AT PAOLI'S.
the poor and laboring classes, forming the great mass of mankind, were out of its sphere. Wherever it could reach them, it strengthened them and rendered them prolific. The conversation was not of particular force or point as reported by Boswell; the dinner party was a very small one, in which there was no provocation to intellectual display.
After dinner they took tea with the ladies, where we find poor Goldsmith happy and at home, singing Tony Lumpkin's song of the “Three Jolly Pigeons," and another, called the “Humors of Ballamaguery,” to a very pretty Irish tune. It was to have been introduced in She Stoops to Conquer, but was left out, as the actress who played the heroine could not sing.
It was in these genial moments that the sunshine of Goldsmith’s nature would break out, and he would say and do a thousand whimsical and agreeable things that made him the life of the strictly social circle. Johnson, with whom conversation was every thing, used to judge Goldsmith too much by his own colloquial standard, and undervalue him for being less provided than himself with acquired facts, the ammunition of the tongue and often the mere lumber of the memory; others, however valued him for the native felicity of his thoughts, however carelessly expressed, and for certain good-fellow qualities, less calculated to dazzle than to endear. “It is amazing," said Johnson one day, after he himself had been talking like an oracle; “it is amazing how little Goldsmith knows; he seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than any one else.” “Yet,” replied Sir Joshua Reynolds, with affectionate promptness, “there is no man whose company is more liked."
Two or three days after the dinner at General Oglethorpe's, Goldsmith met Johnson again at the table of General Paoli, the hero of Corsica Martinelli, of Florence, author of an Italian History of England, was among the guests; as was Boswell, to whom we are indebted for minutes of the conversation which took place. The question was debated whether Martinelli should continue his history down to that day. “To be sure he should,” said Goldsmith. "No, sir ;" cried Johnson, "it would give great offence. He would have to tell of almost all the living great what they did not wish told.” Goldsmith.—“ It may, perhaps, be necessary for a native to be more cautious; but a foreigner, who comes among us without prejudice, may be considered as holding the place of a judge, and may speak his mind freely." Johnson.“Sir, a foreigner, when he sends a work from the press, ought to be on his guard against catching the error and mistaken enthusiasm of the people among whom he happens to be.” Goldsmith. —“Sir, he wants only to sell his history, and to tell truth; one an honest, the other a laudable motive.” Johnson.“Sir, they are both laudable motives. It is laudable in a man to wish to live by his labors; but he should write so as he may live by them, not so as he may be knocked on the head. I would advise him to be at Calais before he publishes his history of the present age. A foreigner who attaches himself to a political party in this country, is in the worst state that can be imagined; he is looked upon as a mere intermeddler. A native may do it from interest." Boswell.—“Or principle." Goldsmith.-" There are people who tell a hundred political lies every day, and are not hurt by it. Surely, then, one may tell truth with perfect safety." Johnson.—“Why, sir, in the first place, he who tells a hundred lies has disarmed the force of his lies. But, besides, a man had rather have hundred lies told of him, than one truth which he does not wish to be told.” Gold
INDEPENDENCE OF ROYALTY.
smith.—“For my part, I'd tell the truth, and shame the devil." Johnson.—“ Yes, sir, but the devil will be angry. I wish to shame the devil as much as you do, but I should choose to be out of the reach of his claws.” Goldsmith.—“His claws can do you no hurt where you have the shield of truth."
This last reply was one of Goldsmith’s lucky hits, and closed the argument in his favor.
“We talked," writes Boswell, “ of the king's coming to see Goldsmith's new play.” “I wish he would," said Goldsmith, adding, however, with an affected indifference, “not that it would do me the least good.” “Well, then," cried Johnson, laughing, “ let us say it would do him good. No, sir, this affectation will not pass ;—it is mighty idle. In such a state as ours, who would not wish to please the chief magistrate ?"
“I do wish to please him," rejoined Goldsmith. “I remember a line in Dryden:
• And every poet is the monarch's friend;
it ought to be reversed.” “Nay,” said Johnson, “there are finer lines in Dryden on this subject:
For colleges on bounteous kings depend,
General Paoli observed that “successful rebels might be." “Happy rebellions," interjected Martinelli. 66 We have no such phrase," cried Goldsmith. “But have you not the thing ?" asked Paoli. “Yes," replied Goldsmith, "all our happy revolutions. They have hurt our constitution, and will hurt it, till we mend it by another HAPPY REVOLUTION. This was a sturdy sally of Jacobitism, that quite surprised Boswell, but must have been relished by Johnson.
General Paoli mentioned a passage in the play, which had been construed into a compliment to a lady of distinction, whose marriage with the Duke of Cumberland, had excited the strong disapprobation of the king as a mesalliance. Boswell, to draw Goldsmith out, pretended to think the compliment unintentional. The poet smiled and hesitated. The general came to his relief. "Monsieur Goldsmith,” said he, “est comme la mer, qui jette des perles et beau coup d'autres belles choses, sans s'en appercevoir.” (Mr. Goldsmith is like the sea, which casts forth pearls and many other beautiful things without perceiving it.)
" Tres-bien dit, et tres-élégamment,” (very well said, and very elegantly,) exclaimed Goldsmith ; delighted with so beautiful a compliment from such a quarter.
Johnson spoke disparagingly of the learning of Mr. Harris, of Salisbury, and doubted his being a good Grecian. “He is what is much better," cried Goldsmith, with prompt good nature, “he is a worthy, humane man.” “ Nay, sir," rejoined the logical Johnson, “ that is not to the purpose of our argument; that will
prove that he can play upon the fiddle as well as Giardini, as that he is an eminent Grecian.” Goldsmith found he had got into a scrape, and seized upon Giardini to help him out of it. “ The greatest musical performers,” said he, dextrously turning the conversation, “have but small emoluments ; Giardini, I am told, does not get above seven hundred a year.” “That is indeed but little for a man to get,” observed Johnson, “who does best that which so many endeavor to do. There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on
the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and fiddlestick, and he can do nothing."
This, upon the whole, though reported by the one-sided Boswell, is a tolerable specimen of the conversations of Goldsmith and Johnson; the former heedless, often illogical, always on the kind-hearted side of the question, and prone to redeem himself by lucky hits; the latter closely argumentative, studiously sententious, often profound, and sometimes laboriously prosaic.
They had an argument a few days later at Mr. Thrale's table, on the subject of suicide. “Do you think, sir," said Boswell, 6 that all who commit suicide are mad ?" “Sir," replied Johnson, “they are not often universally disordered in their intellects, but one passion presses so upon them that they yield to it, and commit suicide, as a passionate man will stab another. I have often thought,” added he, “that after a man has taken the resolution to kill himself, it is not courage in him to do any thing, however desperate, because he has nothing to fear.” “I don't see that," observed Goldsmith. "Nay, but my dear sir," rejoined Johnson, “why should you not see what every one else does ?" “It is,” replied Goldsmith, "for fear of something that he has resolved to kill himself; and will not that timid disposition restrain him ?” “It does not signify,” pursued Johnson, “that the fear of something made him resolve; it is upon the state of his mind, after the resolution is taken, that I argue. Suppose a man, either from fear, or pride, or conscience, or whatever motive, has resolved to kill himself; when once the resolution is taken he has nothing to fear. He may then go and take the