תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

on ?

from your bounty till my return to Ireland, so I have drawn for the last sum that I hope I shall ever trouble you for; 'tis £20. And now, dear Sir, let me here acknowledge the humility of the station in which you found me; let me tell how I was despised by most, and hateful to myself. Poverty, hopeless poverty, was my lot, and Melancholy was beginning to make me her own. When you — but I stop here, to inquire how your health goes

How does my cousin Jenny, and has she recovered her late complaint? How does my poor Jack Goldsmith ? I fear his disorder is of such a nature as he won't easily recover. I wish, my dear Sir, you would make me happy by another letter before I go abroad, for there I shall hardly hear from you. Give my-how shall I express it ? Give my earnest love to Mr. and Mrs. Lawder.

Mrs. Lawder was Jane, his early playmate—the object of his valentine—his first poetical inspiration. She had been for some time married.

Medical instruction, it will be perceived, was the ostensible motive for this visit to the Continent, but the real one, in all probability, was his long-cherished desire to see foreign parts. This, however, he would not acknowledge even to himself, but sought to reconcile his roving propensities with some grand

“I esteem the traveller who instructs the heart," says he, in one of his subsequent writings, “but despise him who only indulges the imagination. A man who leaves home to mend himself and others, is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is only a vagabond.” He, of course, was to travel as a philosopher, and in truth his outfits for a Continental tour were in character. “I shall carry just £33 to France,” said he, “with good store of

moral purpose.

THE LAST SALLY UPON THE WORLD.

65

clothes, shirts, &c., and that with economy will suffice.” He forgot to make mention of his flute, which it will be found had occasionally to come in play when economy could not replenish his purse, nor philosophy find him a supper. Thus slenderly provided with money, prudence or experience, and almost as slightly guarded against “hard knocks” as the hero of La Mancha, whose head-piece was half iron, half pasteboard, he made his final sally forth upon the world; hoping all things; believing all things: little anticipating the checkered ills in store for him; little thinking when he penned his valedictory letter to his good uncle Contarine, that he was never to see him more; never to return after all his wandering to the friend of his infancy; never to revisit his early and fondly-remembered haunts at sweet Lissoy' and Ballymahon.

CHAPTER V.

The agreeable fellow-passengers.-Risks from friends picked up by the way

side.—Sketches of Holland and the Dutch.—Shifts while a poor student at Leyden.—The tulip speculation.—The provident flute.--Sojourn at Paris. -Sketch of Voltaire.--Travelling shifts of a philosophic vagabond.

His usual indiscretion attended Goldsmith at the very outset of his foreign enterprise. He had intended to take shipping at Leith for Holland; but on arriving at that port, he found a ship about to sail for Bordeaux, with six agreeable passengers, whose acquaintance he had probably made at the inn. He was not a man to resist a sudden impulse ; so, instead of embarking for Holland, he found himself ploughing the seas on his way to the other side of the continent. Scarcely had the ship been two days at sea, when she was driven by stress of weather to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Here of course' Goldsmith and his agreeable fellow-passengers found it expedient to go on shore and "refresh themselves after the fatigues of the voyage.” Of course' they frolicked and made merry until a late hour in the evening, when, in the midst of their hilarity, the door was burst open, and a serjeant and twelve grenadiers entered with fixed bayonets, and took the whole convivial party prisoners.

It seems that the agreeable companions with whom our greenhorn had struck up such a sudden intimacy, were Scotchmen in

SKETCHES OF HOLLAND.

67

the French service, who had been in Scotland enlisting recruits for the French army.

In vain Goldsmith protested his innocence; he was marched off with his fellow revellers to prison, whence he with difficulty obtained his release at the end of a fortnight. With his customary facility, however, at palliating his misadventures, he found every thing turn out for the best. His imprisonment saved his life, for during his detention the ship proceeded on her voyage, but was wrecked at the mouth of the Garonne and all on board perished.

Goldsmith's second embarkation was for Holland direct, and in nine days he arrived at Rotterdam, whence he proceeded, without any more deviations, to Leyden. He gives a whimsical picture, in one of his letters, of the appearance of the Hollanders. “ The modern Dutchman is quite a different creature from him of former times : he in every thing imitates a Frenchman but in his easy, disengaged air. He is vastly ceremonious, and is, perhaps, exactly what a Frenchman might have been in the reign of Louis XIV. Such are the better bred. But the downright Hollander is one of the oddest figures in nature. Upon a lank head of hair he wears a half-cocked narrow hat, laced with black riband ; no coat, but seven waistcoats and nine pair of breeches, so that his hips reach up almost to his armpits. This wellclothed vegetable is now fit to see company or make love. But what a pleasing creature is the object of his appetite! why, sh wears a large fur cap, with a deal of Flanders lace; and for every pair of breeches he carries, she puts on two petticoats.

“ A Dutch lady burns nothing about her phlegmatic admirer but his tobacco. You must know, sir, every woman carries in her hand a stove of coals, which, when she sits, she snugs under

said he,

66

her petticoats, and at this chimney dozing Strephon lights his pipe."

In the same letter he contrasts Scotland and Holland. “ There hills and rocks intercept every prospect; here it is all a continued plain. There you might see a well-dressed Duchess issuing from a dirty close, and here a dirty Dutchman inhabiting a palace. The Scotch may be compared to a tulip, planted in dung; but I can never see a Dutchman in his own house, but I think of a magnificent Egyptian temple dedicated to an ox.” The country itself awakened his admiration. “Nothing,"

can equal its beauty; wherever I turn my eyes, fine houses, elegant gardens, statues, grottoes, vistas, present themselves; but when you enter their towns you are charmed beyond description. No misery is to be seen here; every one is usefully employed.” And again, in his noble description in “ The Traveller :"

“ To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Imbosom’d in the deep where Holland lies.
Methinks her patient sons before me stand,
Where the broad ocean leans against the land,
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride.
Onward, methinks, and diligently slow,
The firm connected bulwark seems to grow ;
Spreads its long arms amid the watery roar,
Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore.
While the pent ocean, rising o'er the pile,
Sees an amphibious world before him smile ;
The slow canal, the yellow blossom'd vale,
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail,
The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,
A new creation rescued from his reign."

« הקודםהמשך »