תמונות בעמוד



tle brood, and part of his clothes for her to sell and purchase food ; and, finding himself cold during the night, had cut open his bed and buried himself among the feathers.

At length, on the 27th of February, 1749, 0. S., he was ada mitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and took his final leave of the University. He was freed from college rule, that emancipation so ardently coveted by the thoughtless student, and which too generally launches him amid the cares, the hardships, and vicissitudes of life. He was freed, too, from the brutal tyranny of Wilder. If his kind and placable nature could retain any resentment for past injuries, it might have been gratified by learning subsequently that the passionate career of Wilder was terminated by a violent death in the course of a dissolute brawl; but Goldsmith took no delight in the misfortunes even of his enemies.

He now returned to his friends, no longer the student to sport away the happy interval of vacation, but the anxious man, who is henceforth to shift for himself and make his way through the world. In fact, he had no legitimate home to return to. At the death of his father, the paternal house at Lissoy, in which Goldsmith had passed his childhood, had been taken by Mr. Hodson, who had married his sister Catherine. His mother had removed to Ballymahon, where she occupied a small house, and had to practise the severest frugality. His elder brother Henry served the curacy and taught the school of his late father's parish, and lived in narrow circumstances at Goldsmith's birthplace, the old goblin-house at Pallas.

None of his relatives were in circumstances to aid him with any thing more than a temporary home, and the aspect of every one seemed somewhat changed. In fact, his career at college had disappointed his friends, and they began to doubt his being the great genius they had fancied him. He whimsically alludes to this circumstance in that piece of autobiography, “The Man in Black,” in the Citizen of the World.

“ The first opportunity my father had of finding his expectations disappointed was in the middling figure I made at the University: he had flattered himself that he should soon see me rising into the foremost rank in literary reputation, but was mortified to find me utterly unnoticed and unknown. His disappointment might have been partly ascribed to his having overrated my talents, and partly to my dislike of mathematical reasonings at a time when my imagination and memory, yet unsatisfied, were more eager after new objects than desirous of reasoning upon those I knew. This, however, did not please my tutors, who observed, indeed, that I was a little dull, but at the same time allowed that I seemed to be very good-natured, and had no harm in me.'

The only one of his relatives who did not appear to lose faith in him was his uncle Contarine. This kind and considerate man, it is said, saw in him a warmth of heart requiring some skill to direct, and a latent genius that wanted time to mature, and these impressions none of his subsequent follies and irregularities wholly obliterated. His purse and affection, therefore, as well as his house, were now open to him, and he became his chief counsellor and director after his father's death. He urged him to prepare for holy orders; and others of his relatives concurred in the advice. Goldsmith had a settled repugnance to a clerical life. This has been ascribed by some to conscientious scruples,


* Citizen of the World, letter xxvii.

[blocks in formation]

not considering himself of a temper and frame of mind for such a sacred office: others attributed it to his roving propensities, and his desire to visit foreign countries; he himself gives a whimsical objection in his biography of the “ Man in Black :”—“ To be obliged to wear a long wig when I liked a short one, or a black coat when I generally dressed in brown, I thought such a restraint upon my liberty that I absolutely rejected the proposal.”

In effect, however, his scruples were overruled, and he agreed to qualify himself for the office. He was now only twenty-one, and must pass two years of probation. They were two years of rather loitering unsettled life. Sometimes he was at Lissoy, participating with thoughtless enjoyment in the rural sports and occupations of his brother-in-law, Mr. Hodson; sometimes he was with his brother Henry, at the old goblin mansion at Pallas, assisting him occasionally in his school. The early marriage and unambitious retirement of Henry, though so subversive of the fond plans of his father, had proved happy in their results. He was already surrounded by a blooming family; he was contented with his lot, beloved by his parishioners, and lived in the daily practice of all the amiable virtues, and the immediate enjoyment of their reward. Of the tender affection inspired in the breast of Goldsmith by the constant kindness of this excellent brother, and of the longing recollection with which, in the lonely wanderings of after years, he looked back upon this scene of domestic felicity, we have a touching instance in the well-known opening to his poem of “ The Traveller :''

“Remote, unfriended, melancholy slow,

Or by the lazy Scheld or wandering Po;

Where'er I roam,

whatever realms to see,
My heart untravelld fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.

Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend;
Bless'd be that spot, where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire ;
Bless'd that abode, where want and pain repair,
And every stranger finds a ready chair :
Bless'd be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd,
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale ;
Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury of doing good.”

During this loitering life Goldsmith pursued no study, but rather amused himself with miscellaneous reading; such as biography, travels, poetry, novels, plays-every thing, in short, that administered to the imagination. Sometimes he strolled along the banks of the river Inny; where, in after years, when he had become famous, his favorite seats and haunts used to be pointed out. Often he joined in the rustic sports of the villagers, and became adroit at throwing the sledge, a favorite feat of activity and strength in Ireland. Recollections of these “healthful sports” we find in his “ Deserted Village :"

“ How often have I bless'd the coming day,

When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labor free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree:



And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.”

A boon companion in all his rural amusements, was his cousin and college crony, Robert Bryanton, with whom he sojourned occasionally at Ballymulvey House in the neighborhood. They used to make excursions about the country on foot, some times fishing, sometimes hunting otter in the Inny. They got up a country club at the little inn of Ballymahon, of which Goldsmith soon became the oracle and prime wit; astonishing his unlettered associates by his learning, and being considered capital at a song and a story. From the rustic conviviality of the inn at Ballymahon, and the company which used to assemble there, it is surmised that he took some hints in after life for his picturing of Tony Lumpkin and his associates : “Dick Muggins, the exciseman; Jack Slang, the horse doctor; little Aminidab, that grinds the music box, and Tom Twist, that spins the pewter platter." Nay, it is thought that Tony's drinking song at the “ Three Jolly Pigeons," was but a revival of one of the convivial catches at Ballymahon:

“ Then come put the jorum about,

And let us be merry and clever,
Our hearts and our liquors are stout,

Here's the Three Jolly Pigeons for ever.
Let some cry of woodcock or hare,

Your bustards, your ducks, and your widgeons,
But of all the gay birds in the air,
Here's a health to the Three Jolly Pigeons.

Toroddle, toroddle, toroll.”

« הקודםהמשך »