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Goldsmith's attempt. Thus disappointed of his wish to obtain the attention of “ the company, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat, looking angrily at * Johnson, and exclaimed in a bitter tone, “ Take it.' When Toplady was going to “ speak, Johnson uttered some sound, which led Goldsmith to think that he was “ beginning again, and taking the words from Toplady. Upon which he seized .“ this opportunity of venting his own envy and spleen, under the pretext of “ supporting another person : “Sir,' said he to Johnson, “this gentleman has heard “ you patiently for an hour ; pray allow us now to hear him.' JOHNSON
(sternly)—'Sir, I was not interrupting the gentleman ; I was only giving him a “ signal of my attention. Sir, you are impertinent.' Goldsmith made no reply, “ but continued in the company for some time.” After he had gone, the rest talked a while longer ; but at last, being the club night, the company broke up. “He “ (Johnson), and Mr. Langton, and I,” says Boswell, “ went together to the club, “ where we found Mr. Burke, Mr. Garrick, and some other members, and amongst " them our friend Goldsmith, who sat silently brooding over Johnson's reprimand " to him after dinner. Johnson perceived this, and said aside to some of us, “I'll “make Goldsmith forgive me;' and then called to him in a loud voice, ‘Dr. “Goldsmith, something passed to-day where you and I dined; I ask your pardon.' “ Goldsmith answered placidly, 'It must be much from you, Sir, that I take ill.' “And so at once the difference was over, and they were on as easy terms as ever, “and Goldsmith rattled away as usual.”
Goldsmith, as Boswell had to admit, did not always drivel in conversation. Forked lightnings now and then came out of the fog, and he said excellent and memorable things. We have already quoted his definition of Boswell's main faculty, and Boswell has himself honestly recorded two or three sallies of Goldsmith at his expense. “One evening, in a circle of wits, he found fault with me for talking of Johnson as sed entitled to the honour of unquestionable superiority. “Sir,' said he, ‘you are for "making a monarchy of what should be a republic.' Again, in 1773, when Poswell had booked Johnson for his three months' tour that autumn in Scotland and the Hebrides, and it was more than flesh and blood could stand to hear him exulting in the prospect and talking of the matchlessness of his great man, like Burke, who winds into a subject like a serpent ?” said Goldsmith angrily. Even Johnson himself was occasionally outwitted by Goldy, and took it goodhumouredly. “JOHNSON-I remember once being with Goldsmith in West“ minster Abbey. While we surveyed the Poets' Corner, I said to him,
'Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.' “When we got to Temple Bar, he stopped me, pointed to the heads upon it, and " slyly whispered me,
"Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.' Again, when Goldsmith, in talk with Johnson and Reynolds, spoke of the difficulty of fable-writing, and gave as an instance “the fable of the little fishes who saw birds fly over their heads, and, envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be changed into
“ Is he
birds." While he was dilating on this and pointing out very earnestly that the skill consisted in “making them talk like little fishes,” Johnson's laughter roused tim. “Why, Dr. Johnson,” he proceeded smartly,“ this is not so easy as you seem to think ; for, if you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales.” Again, these two often-quoted sayings about Johnson are Goldsmith's: “There is Do arguing with Johnson; for, when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt-end of it ;” and, “ Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness of manner, but no man has a better heart : he has nothing of the bear but his skin.” Finally, take the story of the tête-à-tête supper of Johnson and Goldy off rumps and kidneys at Jack's Coffee House in Dean Street :-“Sir,” said Johnson, “ these rumps are pretty little things, but then a man must eat a great many of them before he is satisfied.” “Ay, but how many of these would reach to the moon ?” said Goldsmith. "To the moon !" echoed Johnson ; “that, sir, I fear, exceeds your 'ciculation.” “Not at all,” said Goldy firmly ; “ I think I could tell.” “Pray then let us hear?” “Why,” said Goldy slowly-and Mr. Forster must be right in supposing that here he edged off as far as possible from Johnson—"one, if it were long enough.” “Sir, I have deserved it,” gasped Johnson at last.
Poor Goldsmith's successes in this way, however, bore no proportion to his biures. “I have been but once at the club since you left England,” wrote beanclerk to Lord Charlemont, another member of the club, on the 5th of July, 1773; "and we were entertained as usual by Dr. Goldsmith's absurdities.” This had become the common way of talking of him. More especially since Garrick, wih his love of mimicry and mischief, had become a member of the club, it had become the fashion there to laugh at Goldy and all he said and did. But the fashion atended beyond the club; and, whenever Goldy's friends met together, and Garrick chanced to be among them, Goldy's “absurdities” were sure to be the thenie. One such place was St. James's Coffee House in St. James's Street, where for some time a company of persons, partly belonging to the club and partly not, had been in the habit of dining together periodically. Here, one day in February 1774, when Goldy was absent, it was proposed to write jocular epitaphs upon him. Several such were written, and among them this by Garrick :
“ Here lies Poet Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll,
Who wrote like an angel, but talked like poor Poll." But it was not very safe to challenge Goldsmith at this kind of sport, as Garrick and others found to their cost when, in the course of the next month, fragments of Goldsunith's little poem called Retaliation began to be whispered about. Who does not know this exquisite masterpiece of satire, or rather of humorous characterpainting? For there is not a touch of malice or mere caricature in it, but keenest and kindliest observation, and the quintessence of happy expression ? How all the friends that had been laughing at him are paid off, one by one, with what is at once most gracious compliment and most delicate banter, so that they must have both liked it and not liked it, and must have known that the tables were turned upon the whole pack of them, by this one retort of Goldy, for all time to come!
Especially what three portraits in miniature are those of Burke, Garrick, and Reynolds ! Burke lived five-and-twenty years longer, and was to be and do during those five-and-twenty years a great deal more than he had yet been or done; but it is Goldsmith's character of him that we always quote when we want epigram or epitome. In vain Garrick tried, by subsequent verses, not in the best taste, to outepitaph Goldy after he was dead ; his clever “Poor Poll” couplet does last, but ! Goldy's thirty-two lines on Garrick in his Retaliation last also, and are a settlement for ever of the account between them. And what portrait of any one has come to us from the pencil of Reynolds more graphic than the unfinished pen-and-ink sketch of Reynolds himself with which Retaliation ends ?
To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering,
" It must
So, with this loving tribute to Sir Joshua, the poem breaks off. He had more to say in honour of the great painter who had been so truly his friend. Did he contemplate the addition of a portrait of Johnson? Most probably not. be much from you, Sir, that I take ill," the gentle creature had said to the terrible Samuel on receiving his apology for a gross insult; and, notwithstanding his tetchy observation about Johnson to Boswell, “Is he like Burke, who winds into a subject like a serpent ?" it is clear that there was no human being for whom Goldsmith felt so profound and absolute a regard.
They were not to be troubled, any of them, with poor Goldy much longer. His Animated Nature and his Grecian History, though not published, were off his hands; and except that Retaliation may have been lying on his desk to have a few lines added to it now and then when he was in the humour, we hear of nothing particular that was occupying him in the months of February and March 1774. He had come to the end of some years of labour in compiling ; and now, if ever, was the time for carrying into effect the resolution, to which he had been persuading himself, of retiring permanently into some quiet part of the country and coming to London only for two months every year. But, in fact, either to go or stay would have been difficult for him. All his resources were gone; his feet, as he walked in the streets, were in a meshwork of debt, to the extent of about 2,000!.; and all that he could look forward to, with any promise of relief in it, was the chance of a new stretch of some ten thousand acres of additional ditch-work and compi. lation, for some bookseller who would not mind prepaying for the labour in part. He did talk of something of the kind to the publisher Nourse, into whose hands the property of the Animated Nature had passed, and who had it now at press. What would Mr. Nourse say to taking shares with Griffin in a large sequel to the Animated Nature, in the form of a work on the “ vegetable and fossil kingdoms?". Mr. Nourse does not appear to have had time to consider this proposal when, as far as Goldsmith was concerned, it became unnecessary for him to think more
about it. Goldy had gone in March, for a week or two, to his retreat at Hyde on the Exigeware Road, when an attack of a local complaint to which he had for some
time been subject brought him back to his chambers in the Temple. The imme5- diate illness passed off, but a kind of nervous fever followed ; and at eleven o'clock at night on the 25th of March, Mr. Hawes, an apothecary and a friend of Gold.
smith's, was sent for. He found Goldsmith very ill, and bent on doctoring himself himself with “James's fever-powders," a patent medicine the property in which had belonged to Newbery the publisher, and in which Goldsmith had great faith. In spite of all that Mr. Hawes could say, he would take one of these powders ; after which he became worse and worse. Dr. Fordyce, who had been just elected a member of the Gerrard Street Club, and Dr. Turton, another physician of celebrity, were called in to assist Mr. Hawes, but without avail. “Your pulse," said Dr. Turton to his patient, “is in greater disorder than it should be from the state of your fever: is your mind at ease ?” “It is not,” said Goldsmith. And so, with Farying symptoms, he lay on in his chambers in Brick Court till Monday, the 4th of April, 1774, on which day it was known through town that Goldsmith was dead.
He died at half-past four that morning in strong convulsions. When Burke was told the news, phe burst into tears. When Reynolds was told it, he left his painting-room, where he then was, and did no more work that day. How Johnson was affected at the moment we can only guess ; but three months afterwards he wrote as follows to Bennet Langton, in Lincolnshire: “Chambers, you find, is gone far, and poor
Goldsmith is gone much farther. He died of a fever, exasperated, as I believe, by " the fear of distress. He raised money and squandered it by every artifice of * acquisition and folly of expense. But let not his frailties be remembered ; he
was a very great man.” When Goldsmith died he was forty-five years and five maaths old.
His body was buried, on the 9th of April, in the burying-ground of the Temple Church. The monument to him in Westminster Abbey, with the Latin inscription by Johnson, was erected in 1776.
About Goldsmith personally we can add but few particulars to those already given. As is implied by the very name “Goldy,” so persistently attached to him in spite of his remonstrances, he was a little man,-not above five feet five inches high, it is said, though stout and thick about the chest and limbs. To have seen him walking down Fleet Street, with the gigantic Johnson by his side, must have been a sight indeed. His pale and pitted face taken along with his figure, people thought him one of the plainest little bodies that ever entered a room; they even called his appearance “mean.” Looking at his portrait now, and knowing what be was, we do not find this, but only a certain oddness, caused by the outbulging forehead, the lax mouth and chin, and in general the pouting, sulky, “ You don't sufficiently respect me,” expression. Though sociable and convivial, and lavishly expensive in his style of entertaining others, he seems himself to have had simple enough tastes in eating and drinking; he never had a habit of excess in wine, and he was fond of a bowl of milk to the last. One of his peculiarities—he himself
notes it as a peculiarity in one who professed to write on Natural History-was a strong antipathy to mice, eels, and most little animals of the crawling kind, such as worms and caterpillars. Of all the rest of that strange mixture, or jumble, of qualities that went to make Goldy, a sufficient account has already been given ; and, if one were bent on summing it all up in some one general idea or impression, to be easily remembered, it must be that impression or idea in which his contemporaries concurred unanimously through every period of his life, and which has been transmitted to us in so many forms, viz. that he was one of the best-hearted creatures ever born, but a positive idiot except when he had the pen in his hand.
Except when he had the pen in his hand! Ay! there has been his power with the world! And what shall one say now of Goldsmith's writings? Take four brief remarks :-(1) Not to be forgotten is that division of them, already dwelt on, into two distinct orders-compilations and original pieces. As the division was a vital one to Goldsmith himself—for his literary life consisted, as we have said, of a succession of glitterings of spontaneous genius amid dull habitual drudgery at hackwork--so it is of consequence in our retrospect of him. Probably much that Goldsmith did in the way of anonymous compilation lies buried irrecoverably in the old periodicals for which he wrote, and which are now little better than lumber on the shelves of our great libraries. But his compilations of English, Roman, and Grecian History, and his Animated Nature, once so popular, are still known, and are to be distinguished from that class of his writings of which the present volume is a collection. Even in the present volume there are some small things that must be regarded as mere compilations, and may serve as minor specimens of Goldsmith in that line-the wretched shred called a Life of Bolingbroke, for example, and the better, but still poor, Life of Parnell, if not indeed also the Memoir of Voltaire, and the Life of Beau Nash. Deduct these, and in the Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning, the Essays, the Bee, the Citizen of the World, the Vicar of Wakefield, and the Poems and Plays, you have, in various forms, the pure and real Goldsmith. (2) In all that he wrote, his compilations included, there was the charm of his easy, perspicuous style. This was one of Goldsmith's natural gifts; with his humour, his tenderness, and his graceful delicacy of thought, he had it from the first. No writer in the language has ever surpassed him, or even equalled him, in that witching simplicity, that gentle ease of movement, sometimes careless and slip-shod, but always in perfect good taste, and often delighting with the subtlest turns and felicities, which critics : have admired for a hundred years in the diction of Goldsmith. It is this merit that still gives to his compilations what interest they have, though it was but in a moderate degree that he could exhibit it there. “Nullum ferè scribendi genus non tetigit; nullum quod tetigit non ornavit” (“There was no kind of writing almost that he did not touch; none that he touched that he did not adorn,”) said Johnson of him in his epitaph in Westminster Abbey; and the remark includes his compilations. In matter, his History of England, for example, has become quite worthless; and if you want a good laugh over Goldy's notion of what sort of thing a battle