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CHAPTER VI

51

“The clock has just struck two; what a gloom hangs all around! no sound is heard but of the chiming clock, or the distant watch-dog. How few appear in those streets, which but some few hours ago were crowded! But who are those who make the streets their couch, and find a short repose from 5 wretchedness at the doors of the opulent? They are strangers, wanderers, and orphans, whose circumstances are too humble to expect redress, and whose distresses are too great even for pity. Some are without the covering even of rags, and others emaciated with disease; the world has disclaimed them; society turns 10 its back upon their distress, and has given them up to nakedness and hunger. These poor shivering females have once seen happier days, and been flattered into beauty. They are now turned out to meet the severity of winter. Perhaps now, lying at the doors of their betrayers, they sue to wretches whose hearts 15 are insensible, or debauchees who may curse, but will not relieve them.

“Why, why was I born a man, and yet see the sufferings of wretches I cannot relieve ! Poor houseless creatures ! The world will give you reproaches, but will not give you relief.”° 20

Poor houseless Goldsmith! we may here ejaculate — to what shifts he must have been driven to find shelter and sustenance for himself in this his first venture into London! Many years afterwards, in the days of his social elevation, he startled a polite circle at Sir Joshua Reynolds’so by humorously dating an 25 anecdote about the time he “lived among the beggars at Axe Lane.” Such may have been the desolate quarters with which he was fain to content himself when thus adrift upon the town, with but a few half-pence in his pocket.

The first authentic trace we have of him in this new part of 30 his career, is filling the situation of an usher to a school, and even this employ he obtained with some difficulty, after a reference for a character to his friends in the University of Dublin. In the Vicar of Wakefield he makes George Primrose undergo a whimsical catechism concerning the requisites for an 35 usher. “ Have you been bred apprentice to the business ?” “ No.” “Then you won't do for a school. Can you dress the boys’ hair ?” “No." “ Then you won't do for a school. Can you lie three in a bed ?”

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a school. Have you a good stomach ?” “ Yes." will by no means do for a school. I have been an usher in a boarding-school, myself, and may I die of an anodyne neck.

lace,o but I had rather be under-turnkey in Newgate. I was up 5 early and late: I was browbeat by the master, hated for my ugly face by the mistress, worried by the boys.”

Goldsmith remained but a short time in this situation, and to the mortifications experienced there we doubtless owe the

picturings given in his writings of the hardships of an usher's 10 life. “ He is generally,” says he, “the laughing-stock of the

school. Every trick is played upon him; the oddity of his manner, his dress, or his language, is a fund of eternal ridicule; the master himself now and then cannot avoid joining in the laugh; and the poor wretch, eternally resenting this ill-usage, 15 lives in a state of war with all the family." « He is obliged,

perhaps, to sleep in the same bed with the French teacher, who disturbs him for an hour every night in papering and filleting his hair, and stinks worse than a carrion with his rancid pomatums, when he lays his head beside him on the bolster.'

His next shift was as assistant in the laboratory of a chemist near Fish-Street Hill. After remaining here a few months, he heard that Dr. Sleigh, who had been his friend and fellowstudent at Edinburgh, was in London. Eager to meet with a

friendly face in this land of strangers, he iminediately called on 25 him; “but though it was Sunday, and it is to be supposed I

was in my best clothes, Sleigh scarcely knew me - such is the tax the unfortunate pay to poverty. However, when he did recollect me,

I found his heart as warm as ever, and he shared his purse and friendship with me during his continuance in 30 London."

Through the advice and assistance of Dr. Sleigh, he now commenced the practice of medicine, but in a small way, in Bankside, Southwark,o and chiefly among the poor; for he wanted

the figure, address, polish, and management, to succeed among 35 the rich. His old schoolmate and college companion, Beatty,

who used to aid him with his purse at the university, met him about this time, decked out in the tarnished finery of a secondhand suit of green and gold, with a shirt and neckcloth of a fortnight's wear.

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Poor Goldsmith endeavored to assume a prosperous air in the eyes of his early associate. “ He was practising physic,” he said, “and doing very well !At this moment poverty was pinching him to the bone in spite of his practice and his dirty finery. His fees were necessarily small and ill paid, and he was 5 fain to seek some precarious assistance from his pen. Here his quondam fellow-student, Dr. Sleigh, was again of service, introducing him to some nf the booksellers, who gave him occasional, though starveling, employment. According to tradition, however, his most efficient patron just now was a journeyman 10 printer, one of his poor patients of Bankside, who had formed a good opinion of his talents, and perceived his poverty and his literary shifts. The printer was in the employ of Mr. Samuel Richardson,the author of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison; who combined the novelist and the publisher, and 15 was in flourishing circumstances. Through the journeyman's intervention Goldsmith is said to have become acquainted with Richardson, who employed him as reader and corrector of the press, at his printing establishment in Salisbury Court, occupation which he alternated with his medical duties. 20

Being admitted occasionally to Richardson's parlor, he began to form literary acquaintances, among whom the most important was Dr. Young, the author of Night Thoughts, a poem in the height of fashion. It is not probable, however, that much familiarity took place at the time between the literary lion of 25 the day and the poor Æsculapiuso of Bankside, the humble corrector of the press. Still the communion with literary men had its effect to set his imagination teeming. Dr. Farr, one of his Edinburgh fellow-students, who was at London about this time, attending the hospitals and lectures, gives us an amusing ac- 30 count of Goldsmith in his literary character.

“ Early in January he called upon me one morning before I was up, and, on my entering the room, I recognized my old acquaintance, dressed in a rusty, full-trimmed black suit, with his pockets full of papers, which instantly reminded me of the 35 poet in Garrick's farce of Lethe. After we had finished our breakfast, he drew from his pocket part of a tragedy, which he said he had brought for my correction. In vain I pleaded inability, when he began to read; and every part on which I

expressed a doubt as to the propriety was immediately blotted out. I then most earnestly pressed him not to trust to my judgment, but to take the opinion of persons better qualified to decide on dramatic compositions. He now told me he had sub! 5 mitted his production, so far as he had written, to Mr. Richardson, the author of Clarissa, on which I peremptorily declined offering another criticism on the performance.”

From the graphic description given of him by Dr. Farr, it will be perceived that the tarnished finery of green and gold had 10 been succeeded by a professional suit of black, to which, we are

told, were added the wig and cane indispensable to medical doctors in those days. The coat was a second-hand one, of rusty velvet, with a patch on the left breast, which he adroitly

covered with his three-cornered hat during his medical visits; 15 and we have an amusing anecdote of his contest of courtesy

with a patient who persisted in endeavoring to relieve him from the hat, which only made him press it more devoutly to his heart.

Nothing further has ever been heard of the tragedy men20 tioned by Dr. Farr; it was probably never completed. The

same gentleman speaks of a strange Quixotic scheme which Goldsmith had in contemplation at the time, “of going to decipher the inscriptions on the written mountains, though he

was altogether ignorant of Arabic, or the language in which 25 they might be supposed to be written. “ The salary of three

hundred pounds,” adds Dr. Farr, “ which had been left for the purpose, was the temptation.” This was probably one of many dreamy projects with which his fervid brain was apt to teem.

On such subjects he was prone to talk vaguely and magnifi30 cently, but inconsiderately, from a kindled imagination rather

than a well-instructed judgment. He had always a great notion of expeditions to the East, and wonders to be seen and effected in the Oriental countries.

CHAPTER VII

Life of a Pedagogue.- Kindness to Schoolboys. - Pertness in Return.

Expensive Charities. — The_Griffiths and the Monthly Review. — Toils of a Literary Hack. — Rupture with the Griffiths.

AMONG the most cordial of Goldsmith's intimates in London during this time of precarious struggle, were certain of his former fellow-students in Edinburgh. One of these was the son of a Dr. Milner, a dissenting minister, who kept a classical school of eminence at Peckham, in Surrey. Young Milner had 5 a favorable opinion of Goldsmith's abilities and attainments, and cherished for him that goodwill which his genial nature seems ever to have inspired among his school and college associates. His father falling ill, the young man negotiated with Goldsmith to take temporary charge of the school. The latter 10 readily consented; for he was discouraged by the slow growth of medical reputation and practice, and as yet had no confidence in the coy smiles of the Muse. Laying by his wig and cane, therefore, and once more wielding the ferule, he resumed the character of the pedagogue, and for some time reigned as vice- 15 gerent over the academy at Peckham. He appears to have been well-treated by both Dr. Milner and his wife; and became a favorite with the scholars from his easy, indulgent good-nature. He mingled in their sports; told them droll stories; played on the flute for their amusement; and spent his money in treating 20 them to sweetmeats and other schoolboy dainties. His familiarity was sometimes carried too far; he indulged in boyish pranks and practical jokes, and drew upon himself retorts in kind, which, however, he bore with great good-humor. Once, indeed, he was touched to the quick by a piece of schoolboy 25 pertness. After playing on the flute, he spoke with enthusiasm of music, as delightful in itself, and as a valuable accomplishment for a gentleman, whereupon a youngster, with a glance at his ungainly person, wished to know if he considered himself a gentleman. Poor Goldsmith, feelingly alive to the 30 awkwardness of his appearance and the humility of his situa

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