תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Notwithstanding all these accomplishments and this rural popularity, his friends began to shake their heads and shrug their shoulders when they spoke of him; and his brother Henry noted with any thing but satisfaction his frequent visits to the club at Ballymahon. He emerged, however, unscathed from this dangerous ordeal, more fortunate in this respect than his comrade Bryanton ; but he retained throughout life a fondness for clubs : often, too, in the course of his checkered career, he looked back to this period of rural sports and careless enjoyments, as one of the few sunny spots of his cloudy life; and though he ultimately rose to associate with birds of a finer feather, his heart would still yearn in secret after the “ THREE JOLLY PIGEONS."

GOLDSMITH REJECTED BY THE BISHOP.

45

CHAPTER III.

Goldsmith rejected by the Bishop.–Second sally to see the wc ld.—Takes

passage for America.—Ship sails without him.-Return on Fiddle-back.A hospitable friend.—The Counsellor.

The time had now arrived for Goldsmith to apply for orders, and he presented himself accordingly before the Bishop of Elphin for ordination. We have stated his great objection to clerical life, the obligation to wear a black coat; and, whimsical as it may appear, dress seems in fact to have formed an obstacle to his entrance into the church. He had ever a passion for clothing his sturdy, but awkward little person in gay colors; and on this solemn occasion, when it was to be supposed his garb would be of suitable gravity, he appeared luminously arrayed in scarlet breeches ! He was rejected by the bishop: some say for want of sufficient studious preparation; his rambles and frolics with Bob Bryanton, and his revels with the club at Ballymahon, having been much in the way of his theological studies ; others attribute his rejection to reports of his college irregularities, which the Bishop had received from his old tyrant Wilder; but those who look into the matter with more knowing eyes, pronounce the scarlet breeches to have been the fundamental objection. “My friends," says Goldsmith, speaking through his humorous representative, the “Man in Black "_"my friends were now perfectly satisfied I was undone; and yet they thought it a pity for one that had not the least harm in him, and was so very good-natured." His uncle Contarine, however, still remained unwavering in his kindness, though much less sanguine in his expectations. He now looked round for a humbler sphere of action, and through his influence and exertions Oliver was received as tutor in the family of a Mr. Flinn, a gentleman of the neighborhood. The situation was apparently respectable; he had his seat at the table; and joined the family in their domestic recreations and their evening game at cards. There was a servility, however, in his position, which was not to his taste: nor did his deference for the family increase upon familiar intercourse. He charged a member of it with unfair play at cards. A violent altercation ensued, which ended in his throwing up his situation as tutor. On being paid off he found himself in possession of an unheard of amount of money. His wandering propensity and his desire to see the world, were instantly in the ascendency. Without communicating his plans or intentions to his friends, he procured a good horse, and with thirty pounds in his pocket, made his second sally forth into the world.

The worthy niece and housekeeper of the hero of La Mancha could not have been more surprised and dismayed at one of the Don’s clandestine expeditions, than were the mother and friends of Goldsmith when they heard of his mysterious departure. Weeks elapsed, and nothing was seen or heard of him. It was feared that he had left the country on one of his wandering freaks, and his poor mother was reduced almost to despair, when one day he arrived at her door almost as forlorn in plight as the prodigal son. Of his thirty pounds not a shilling was left; and, instead of the goodly steed on which he had issued forth on his

RETURN ON FIDDLE-BACK.

47

errantry, he was mounted on a sorry little pony, which he had nicknamed Fiddle-back. As soon as his mother was well assured of his safety, she rated him soundly for his inconsiderate conduct. His brothers and sisters, who were tenderly attached to him, interfered, and succeeded in mollifying her ire; and whatever lurking anger the good dame might have, was no doubt effectually vanquished by the following whimsical narrative which he drew up at his brother's house and dispatched to her:

“ My dear mother, if you will sit down and calmly listen to what I say, you shall be fully resolved in every one of those many questions you have asked me. I went to Cork and converted my horse, which you prize so much higher than Fiddleback, into cash, took my passage in a ship bound for America, and, at the same time, paid the captain for my freight and all the other expenses

of

my voyage. But it so happened that the wind did not answer for three weeks; and you know, mother, that I could not command the elements. My misfortune was, that, when the wind served, I happened to be with a party in the country, and my friend the captain never inquired after me, but set sail with as much in difference as if I had been on board. The remainder of my time I employed in the city and its environs, viewing every thing curious, and you know no one can starve while he has money in his pocket.

“Reduced, however, to my last two guineas, I began to think of my

dear mother and friends whom I had left behind me, and so bought that generous beast Flddle-back, and bade adieu to Cork with only five shillings in my pocket. This, to be sure, was but a scanty allowance for man and horse towards a journey of above a hundred miles; but I did not despair, for I knew I must find friends on the road.

[ocr errors]

“I recollected particularly an old and faithful acquaintance I made at college, who had often and earnestly pressed me to spend a summer with him, and he lived but eight miles from Cork. This circumstance of vicinity he would expatiate on to me with peculiar emphasis. We shall,' says he, enjoy the delights of both city and country, and you shall command my stable and my purse. However, upon

the

way I met a poor woman all in tears, who told me her husband had been arrested for a debt he was not able to pay, and that his eight children must now starve, bereaved as they were of his industry, which had been their only support. I thought myself at home, being not far from my good friend's house, and therefore parted with a moiety of all my store; and pray, mother, ought I not have given her the other half crown, for wbat she got would be of little use to her? However, I soon arrived at the mansion of my affectionate friend, guarded by the vigilance of a huge mastiff, who flew at me and would have torn me to pieces but for the assistance of a woman, whose countenance was not less grim than that of the dog; yet she with great humanity relieved me from the jaws of this Cerberus, and was prevailed on to carry up my name to her master.

“ Without suffering me to wait long, my old friend, who was then recovering from a severe fit of sickness, came down in his nightcap, nightgown, and slippers, and embraced me with the most cordial welcome, showed me in, and, after giving me a history of his indisposition, assured me that he considered himself peculiarly fortunate in having under his roof the man he most loved on earth, and whose stay with him must, above all things, contribute to perfect his recovery. I now repented sorely I had not given the poor woman the other half crown, as I thought all

« הקודםהמשך »