« 이전계속 »
tion to a man of his literary reputation ; if he does not get the better, he is miserably vexed.”
Johnson was not aware how much he was himself to blame in producing this vexation. “Goldsmith,” said Miss Reynolds,
always appeared to be overawed by Johnson, particularly when 5 in company with people of any consequence; always as if impressed with fear of disgrace; and indeed well he might. I have been witness to many mortifications he has suffered in Dr. Johnson's company.”.
It may not have been disgrace that he feared, but rudeness. 10 The great lexicographer, spoiled by the homage of society, was still more prone than himself to lose temper when the argument went against him. He could not brook appearing to be worsted, but would attempt to bear down his adversary by the rolling thunder of his periods, and, when that failed, would become 15 downright insulting: Boswell called it “ having recourse to some sudden mode of robust sophistry”; but Goldsmith designated it much more happily. “There is no arguing with Johnson,” said he, “ for, when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the but-end of it.” 1
In several of the intellectual collisions recorded by Boswell as triumphs of Dr. Johnson it really appears to us that Goldsmith had the best both of the wit and the argument, and especially of the courtesy and good-nature.
On one occasion he certainly gave Johnson a capital reproof 25 as to his own colloquial peculiarities. Talking of fables, Goldsmith observed that the animals introduced in them seldom talked in character. “ For instance,” said he, “ the fable of the little fishes, who saw birds fly over their heads, and, envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be changed into birds. The skill 30 consists in making them talk like little fishes.” Just then observing that Dr. Johnson was shaking his sides and laughing he immediately added, “Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy as you seem to think; for, if you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales.”
35 1 The following is given by Boswell, as an instance of robust sophistry: “Once, when I was pressing upon him with visible advantage, he stopped me thus — My dear Boswell, let's have no more of this; you'll make nothing of it; I'd rather hear you whistle a Scotch tune.
But though Goldsmith suffered frequent mortifications in society from the overbearing, and sometimes harsh, conduct of Johnson, he always did justice to his benevolence. When royal pensions were granted to Dr. Johnson and Dr. Shebbeare, a pun5 ster remarked, that the king had pensioned a she-bear and a hebear; to which Goldsunith replied, “ Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in his manner, but no man alive has a more tender heart. He has nothing of the bear but the skin.”
Goldsmith, in conversation, shone most when he least thought 10 of shining; when he gave up all effort to appear wise and learned,
or to cope with the oracular sententiousness of Johnson, and gave way to his natural impulses. Even Boswell could perceive his merits on these occasions. For my part,” said he, conde
scendingly, “I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk 15 away carelessly;” and many a much wiser man than Boswell
delighted in those outpourings of a fertile fancy and a generous heart. In his happy moods, Goldsmith had an artless simplicity and buoyant good-humor, that led to a thousand amusing blun
ders and whimsical confessions, much to the entertainment of 20 his intimates; yet in his most thoughtless garrulity there was
occasionally the gleam of the gold and the flash of the diamond.
Social Resorts. The Shilling Whist-Club. — A Practical Joke. - The
Wednesday Club. — The “Tun of Man.”. The Pig-Butcher. - Tom
Though Goldsmith's pride and ambition led him to mingle occasionally with high society, and to engage in the colloquial
conflicts of the learned circle, in both of which he was ill at ease 25 and conscious of being undervalued, yet he had some social re
sorts in which he indemnified himself for their restraints by indulging his humor without control. One of them was a shiiling whist-club, which held its meetings at the Devil Tavern,
near Temple Bar, a place rendered classic, we are told, by a club 30 held there in old times, to which “rare Ben Jonson " had fur
nished the rules. The company was of a familiar, unceremonious kind, delighting in that very questionable wit which consists in playing off practical jokes upon each other. Of one of these Goldsmith was made the butt. Coming to the club one night in a hackney-coach, he gave the coachman by mistake a guinea 5 instead of a shilling, which he set down as a dead loss, for there was no likelihood, he said, that a fellow of this class would have the honesty to return the money. On the next club-evening he was told a person at the street-door wished to speak with him. He went forth, but soon returned with a radiant countenance. 10 To his surprise and delight the coachman had actually brought back the guinea. While he launched forth in praise of this unlooked-for piece of honesty, he declared it ought not to go unrewarded. Collecting a small sum from the club, and no doubt increasing it largely from his own purse, he dismissed 15 the Jehu with many encomiums on his good conduct. He was still chanting his praises, when one of the club requested a sight of the guinea thus honestly returned. To Goldsmith's confusion it proved to be a counterfeit. The universal burst of laughter which succeeded, and the jokes by which he was assailed on 20 every side, showed him that the whole was a hoax, and the pretended coachman as much a counterfeit as the guinea. He was so disconcerted, it is said, that he soon beat a retreat for the evening.
Another of those free and easy clubs met on Wednesday even- 25 ings at the Globe Tavern in Fleet Street. It was somewhat in the style of the Three Jolly Pigeons : songs, jokes, dramatic imitations, burlesque parodies, and broad sallies of humor formed a contrast to the sententious morality, pedantic casuistry, and polished sarcasm of the learned circle. Here a huge 30 (tun of man,” by the name of Gordon, used to delight Goldsmith by singing the jovial song of Nottingham Ale, and looking like a butt of it. Here, too, a wealthy
pig-butcher, charmed, no doubt, by the mild philanthropy of The Traveller, aspired to be on the most sociable footing with the author; and here 35 was Tom King, the comedian, recently risen to consequence by his performance of Lord Ogleby in the new comedy of The Clandestine Marriage.
A member of more note was one Hugh Kelly, a second-rate
author, who, as he became a kind of competitor of Goldsmith's, deserves particular mention. He was an Irishman, about twentyeight years of age, originally apprenticed to a staymaker in Dublin; then writer to a London attorney; then a Grub-Street 5 hack, scribbling for magazines and newspapers. Of late he had set up for theatrical censor and satirist, and in a paper called Thespis, in emulation of Churchill's Rosciad, had harassed many of the poor actors without mercy, and often without wit;
but had lavished his incense on Garrick, who, in consequence, 10 took him into favor. He was the author of several works of
superficial merit, but which had sufficient vogue to inflate his vanity. This, however, must have been mortified on his first introduction to Johnson ; after sitting a short time he got up
to take leave, expressing a fear that a longer visit might be 15 troublesome. “ Not in the least, sir,” said the surly moralist,
“I had forgotten you were in the room.' Johnson used to speak of him as a man who had written more than he had read.
A prime wag of this club was one of Goldsmith's poor countrymen and hangers-on, by the name of Glover. He had originally 20 been educated for the medical profession, but had taken in
early life to the stage, though apparently without much success. While performing at Cork, he undertook, partly in jest, to restore life to the body of a malefactor, who had just been exe
cuted. To the astonishment of every one, himself among the 25 number, he succeeded. The miracle took wind. He abandoned the stage, resumed the wig and cane, and considered his fortune
Unluckily, there were not many dead people to be restored to life in Ireland; his practice did not equal his expec
tation, so he came to London, where he continued to dabble 30 indifferently, and rather unprofitably, in physic and literature.
He was a great frequenter of the Globe and Devil taverns, where he used to amuse the company by his talent at storytelling and his powers of mimicry, giving capital imitations of
Garrick, Foote, Colman, Sterne, and other public characters of 35 the day.
He seldom happened to have money enough to pay his reckoning, but was always sure to find some ready purse among those who had been amused by his humors. Goldsmith, of course, was one of the readiest. It was through him that Glover was admitted to the Wednesday Club, of which his
theatrical ,imitations became the delight. Glover, however, was a little anxious for the dignity of his patron, which appeared to him to suffer from the over-familiarity of some of the members of the club. He was especially shocked by the free and easy tone in which Goldsmith was addressed by the pig-butcher. 5
Come, Noll,” would he say, as he pledged him, “ here's my service to you, old boy!”
Glover whispered to Goldsmith, that he “ should not allow such liberties.” “ Let him alone,” was the reply, “ you'll see how civilly I'll let him down.” After a time, he called out, 10 with marked ceremony and politeness, “Mr. B., I have the honor of drinking your good health.” Alas! dignity was not poor Goldsmith's forte : he could keep no one at a distance.
Thank’ee, thank’ee, Noll,” nodded the pig-butcher, scarce taking the pipe out of his mouth. “I don't see the effect of 15 your reproof,” whispered Glover.“I give it up,” replied Goldsmith, with a good-humored shrug; "I ought to have known before now there is no putting a pig in the right way.”
Johnson used to be severe upon Goldsmith for mingling in these motley circles, observing, that, having been originally 20 poor, he had contracted a love for low company. Goldsmith, however, was guided not by a taste for what was low, but for what was comic and characteristic. It was the feeling of the artist; the feeling which furnished out some of his best scenes in familiar life, the feeling with which “ rare Ben Jonson " 25 sought these very haunts and circles in days of yore, to study Every Man in his Humor.
It was not always, however, that the humor of these associates was to his taste: as they became boisterous in their merriment, he was apt to become depressed. “ The company of fools,” 30 says he, in one of his essays, may at first make us smile, but at last never fails of making us melancholy.”. “ Often he would become moody,” says Glover, “and would leave the party abruptly to go home and brood over his misfortune.”
It is possible, however, that he went home for quite a dif- 35 ferent purpose: to commit to paper some scene or passage suggested for his comedy of The Good-natured Man. The elaboration of humor is often a most serious task; and we have never witnessed a more perfect picture of mental niisery than