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lay upon his table, and for which the press was urgent, he being detained by other engagements at Windsor. They met by appointment at his chambers in the Temple, where they found every thing in disorder, and costly books lying scattered about on the tables and on the floor; many of the books on natural history which he had recently consulted lay open among uncorrected proof-sheets. The subject in hand, and from which he had suddenly broken off, related to birds.
know any thing about birds ?” asked Dr. Percy, smiling. “Not an atom,” replied Cradock; “ do you ?” “Not I! I scarcely know a goose from a swan : however, let us try what we can do." They set to work and completed their friendly task. Goldsmith, however, when he came to revise it, made such alterations that they could neither of them recognize their own share. The engagement at Windsor, which had thus caused Goldsmith to break off suddenly from his multifarious engagements, was a party of pleasure with some literary ladies. Another anecdote was current, illustrative of the carelessness with which he executed works requiring accuracy and research. On the 22d of June he had received payment in advance for a Grecian History in two volumes, though only one was finished. As he was pushing on doggedly at the second volume, Gibbon, the historian, called in. 66 You are the man of all others I wish to see,” cried the poet, glad to be saved the trouble of reference to his books. 6 What was the name of that Indian king who gave Alexander the Great so much trouble ?” “Montezuma," replied Gibbon, sportively. The heedless author was about committing the name to paper without reflection, when Gibbon pretended to recollect himself, and gave the true name, Porus.
This story, very probably, was a sportive exaggeration; but it was a multiplicity of anecdotes like this and the preceding one,
some true and some false, which had impaired the confidence of booksellers in Goldsmith, as a man to be relied on for a task requiring wide and accurate research, and close and long continued application. The project of the Universal Dictionary, therefore, met with no encouragement, and fell through.
The failure of this scheme, on which he had built such spacious hopes, sank deep into Goldsmith's heart. He was still further grieved and mortified by the failure of an effort made by some of his friends to obtain for him a pension from government. There had been a talk of the disposition of the ministry to extend the bounty of the crown to distinguished literary men in pecuniary difficulty, without regard to their political creed: when the merits and claims of Goldsmith, however, were laid before them, they met no favor. The sin of sturdy independence lay at his door. He had refused to become a ministerial hack when offered a carte blanche by Parson Scott, the cabinet emissary. The wondering parson had left him in poverty and "his garret," and there the ministry were disposed to suffer him to remain.
In the meantime Dr. Beattie comes out with his Essay on Truth, and all the orthodox world are thrown into a paroxysm of contagious ecstasy. He is cried up as the great champion of Christianity against the attacks of modern philosophers and infidels; he is fêted and flattered in every way. He receives at Oxford the honorary degree of doctor of civil law, at the same time with Sir Joshua Reynolds. The king sends for him, praises his Essay, and gives him a pension of two hundred pounds.
Goldsmith feels more acutely the denial of a pension to himself when one has thus been given unsolicited to a man he might without vanity consider so much his inferior. He was not one to conceal his feelings. “Here's such a stir,” said he one day at
A HIGH-MINDED REBUKE.
Thrale's table, “ about a fellow that has written one book, and I have written so many !"
“Ah, Doctor !” exclaimed Johnson, in one of his caustic moods, “ there go two and forty sixpences, you know, to one guinea.” This is one of the cuts at poor Goldsmith in which Johnson went contrary to head and heart in his love for saying what is called a "good thing." No one knew better than himself the comparative superiority of the writings of Goldsmith; but the jingle of the sixpences and the guinea was not to be resisted.
“Every body," exclaimed Mrs. Thrale, “ loves Dr. Beattie, but Goldsmith, who says he cannot bear the sight of so much applause as they all bestow upon him. Did he not tell us so himself no one would believe he was so exceedingly ill-natured."
He told them so himself because he was too open and unreserved to disguise his feelings, and because he really considered the praise lavished on Beattie extravagant, as in fact it was.
It was all, of course, set down to sheer envy and uncharitableness. To add to his annoyance, he found his friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, joining in the universal adulation. He had painted a full length portrait of Beattie decked in the doctor's robes in which he had figured at Oxford, with the Essay on Truth under his arm and the angel of truth at his side, while Voltaire figured as one of the demons of infidelity, sophistry, and falsehood, driven into utter darkness.
Goldsmith had known Voltaire in early life; he had been his admirer and his biographer; he grieved to find him receiving such an insult from the classic pencil of his friend. “It is unworthy of you," said he to Sir Joshua, “to debase so high a genius as Voltaire before so mean a writer as Beattie. Beattie and his book will be forgotten in ten years, while Voltaire's fame will last for ever.
Take care it does not perpetuate this picture to the shame of such a man as you.” This noble and high-minded rebuke is the only instance on record of any reproachful words between the poet and the painter; and we are happy to find that it did not destroy the harmony of their intercourse.
TOIL WITHOUT HOPE,
Toil without hope.— The Poet in the green-room—in the flc wer garden
at Vauxhall—dissipation without gayety.-Cradock in town-friendly sympathy—a parting scene-an invitation to pleasure.
THWARTED in the plans and disappointed in the hopes which had recently cheered and animated him, Goldsmith found the labor at his half-finished tasks doubly irksome from the consciousness that the completion of them could not relieve him from his pecuniary embarrassments. His impaired health, also, rendered him less capable than formerly of sedentary application, and continual perplexities disturbed the flow of thought necessary for original composition. He lost his usual gayety and good-humor, and became, at times, peevish and irritable. Too proud of spirit to seek sympathy or relief from his friends, for the pecuniary difficulties he had brought upon himself by his errors and extravagance; and unwilling, perhaps, to make known their amount, he buried his cares and anxieties in his own bosom, and endeavored in company to keep up his usual air of gayety and uncon
This gave his conduct an appearance of fitfulness and caprice, varying suddenly from moodiness to mirth, and from silent gravity to shallow laughter; causing surprise and ridicule in those who were not aware of the sickness of heart which lay beneath.