« הקודםהמשך »
THE HOSPITABLE FRIEND.
my bills of humanity would be punctually answered by this worthy man. I revealed to him my whole soul; I opened to him all my distresses; and freely owned that I had but one half crown in my pocket; but that now, like a ship after weathering out the storm, I considered myself secure in a safe and hospitable harHe made no answer, but walked about the
room, rubbing his hands as one in deep study. This I imputed to the sympathetic feelings of a tender heart, which increased my esteem for him, and, as that increased, I gave the most favorable interpretation to his silence. I construed it into delicacy of sentiment, as if he dreaded to wound my pride by expressing his commiseration in words, leaving his generous conduct to speak for itself.
“ It now approached six o'clock in the evening; and as I had eaten no breakfast, and as my spirits were raised, my appetite for dinner grew uncommonly keen, At length the old woman came into the room with two plates, one spoon, and a dirty cloth, which she laid upon the table. This appearance, without increasing my spirits, did not diminish my appetite. My protectress soon returned with a small bowl of sago, a small porringer of sour milk, a loaf of stale brown bread, and the heel of an old cheese all over crawling with mites. My friend apologized that his illness obliged him to live on slops, and that better fare was not in the house ; observing, at the same time, that a milk diet was certainly the most healthful; and at eight o'clock he again recommended a regular life, declaring that for his part he would lie down with the lamb and rise with the lark. My hunger was at this time so exceedingly sharp that I wished for another slice of the loaf, but was obliged to go to bed without even that refreshment.
6. This lenten entertainment I had received made me resolve to depart as soon as possible ; accordingly, next morning, when I spoke of going, he did not oppose my resolution; he rather commended my design, adding some very sage counsel upon the occasion. "To be sure,' said he, the longer you stay away from your mother, the more you will grieve her and your other friends; and possibly they are already afflicted at hearing of this foolish expedition you have made.' Notwithstanding all this, and without any hope of softening such a sordid heart, I again renewed the tale of my distress, and asking 'how he thought I could travel above a hundred miles upon one half crown ?? I begged to borrow a single guinea, which I assured him should be repaid with thanks. And you know, sir,' said I, it is no more than I have done for you.' To which he firmly answered, Why, look you, Mr. Goldsmith, that is neither here nor there. I have paid you
all you ever lent me, and this sickness of mine has left me bare of cash. But I have bethought myself of a conveyance for you; sell your horse, and I will furnish you a much better one to ride on.' I readily grasped at his proposal, and begged to see the nag; on which he led me to his bedchamber, and from under the bed he pulled out a stout oak stick. "Here he is,' said he; "take this in your hand, and it will carry you to your
mother's with more safety than such a horse as you ride. I was in doubt, when I got it into my hand, whether I should not, in the first place, apply it to his pate ; but a rap at the street door made the wretch fly to it, and when I returned to the parlor, he introduced me, as if nothing of the kind had happened, to the gentleman who entered, as Mr. Goldsmith, his most ingenious and worthy friend, of whom he had so often heard him speak with rapture. I could scarcely compose myself; and must have betrayed indig
nation in my mien to the stranger, who was a counsellor-at-law in the neighborhood, a man of engaging aspect and polite address.
“ After spending an hour, he asked my friend and me to dine with him at his house. This I declined at first, as I wished to have no farther communication with my hospitable.friend; but at the solicitation of both I at last consented, determined as I was by two motives; one, that I was prejudiced in favor of the looks and manner of the counsellor; and the other, that I stood in need of a comfortable dinner. And there, indeed, I found every thing that I could wish, abundance without profusion, and elegance without affectation. In the evening, when my old friend, who had eaten very plentifully at his neighbor's table, but talked again of lying down with the lamb, made a motion to me for retiring, our generous host requested I should take a bed with him, upon which I plainly told my old friend that he might go home and take care of the horse he had given me, but that I should never re-enter his doors. He went away with a laugh, leaving me to add this to the other little things the counsellor already knew of his plausible neighbor.
“And now, my dear mother, I found sufficient to reconcile me to all my follies ; for here I spent three whole days. The counsellor had two sweet girls to his daughters, who played enchantingly on the harpsichord; and yet it was but a melancholy pleasure I felt the first time I heard them; for that being the first time also that either of them had touched the instrument since their mother's death, I saw the tears in silence trickle down their father's cheeks. I every day endeavored to go away, but every day was pressed and obliged to stay. On my going, the counsellor offered me his purse, with a horse and servant to convey me home; but the latter I declined, and only took a guinea to bear my necessary expenses on the road.
66 OLIVER GOLDSMITH. “ To Mrs. Anne Goldsmith, Ballymahon."
Such is the story given by the poet-errant of this his second sally in quest of adventures. We cannot but think it was here and there touched up a little with the fanciful pen of the future essayist, with a view to amuse his mother and soften her vexation; but even in these respects it is valuable as showing the early play of his humor, and his happy knack of extracting sweets from that worldly experience which to others yields nothing but bitterness.
SALLIES FORTH AS A LAW STUDENT.
Sallies forth as a law student.–Stumbles at the outset.-Cousin Jane and the
valentine.—A family oracle.-Sallies forth as a student of medicine.Hocus-pocus of a boarding-house.— Transformations of a leg of mutton,The mock ghost.—Sketches of Scotland. — Trials of toadyism.—A poet's purse for a Continental tour.
A NEW consultation was held among Goldsmith's friends as to his future course, and it was determined he should try the law. His uncle Contarine agreed to advance the necessary funds, and actually furnished him with fifty pounds, with which he set off for London, to enter on his studies at the Temple. Unfortunately, he fell in company at Dublin with a Roscommon acquaintance, one whose wits had been sharpened about town, who beguiled him into a gambling-house, and soon left him as penniless as when he bestrode the redoubtable Fiddle-back.
He was so ashamed of this fresh instance of gross heedless ness and imprudence, that he remained some time in Dublin without communicating to his friends his destitute condition They heard of it, however, and he was invited back to the coun try, and indulgently forgiven by his generous uncle, but less readily by his mother, who was mortified and disheartened at seeing all her early hopes of him so repeatedly blighted. His brother Henry, too, began to lose patience at these successive