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Daniel Hodson, 'the son of a gentleman of good property, * residing at St. John's, near Athlone.' The young man was at the time availing himself of Henry Goldsmith's services as private tutor: Henry having obtained a scholarship two years before, and assisting the family resources with such employment of his college distinction. The good Charles Goldsmith was greatly indignant at the marriage, and on reproaches from the elder Hodson, 'made a sacrifice detrimental to the interests of his family.' He entered into a legal engagement, still registered in the Dublin Four Courts, and bearing date the 7th of September, 1744, 'to pay to Daniel Hodson, Esq., of St. 'John's, Roscommon, £400 as the marriage portion of his daughter Catherine, then the wife of the said Daniel
Hodson. But it could not be effected without sacrifice of his tithes and rented land; and it was a sacrifice, as it seems to me, made in a spirit of very simple and very false pride. Mr. Prior, who discovered the deed, attributes it to the highest sense of honour;' but it must surely be doubted if an act which, to elevate the pretensions of one child, and adapt them to those of the man she had married, inflicted beggary on the rest, should be so referred to. Oliver was the first to taste its bitterness. It was announced to him that he could not go to college as Henry had gone, a Pensioner ; but must consent to enter it, a Sizar.
The first thing exacted of a sizar, in those days, was proof of classical attainments. He was to show himself, to a
certain reasonable extent, a good scholar; in return for which, being clad in a black gown of coarse stuff without sleeves, he was marked with the servant's badge of a red cap, and put to the servant's offices of sweeping courts in the morning, carrying up dishes from the kitchen to the fellows-dining-table in the afternoon, and waiting in the hall till the fellows had dined. This; commons, teaching, and chambers, being in return greatly reduced; is called by Goldsmith's last biographer, 'One of those judicious and
considerate arrangements of the founders of such institu‘tions, that gives to the less opulent the opportunity of
cultivating learning at a trifling expense;' but it is called by Goldsmith himself, in his Essay on Polite Literature, a Contradiction' for which he should blush to ask a reason from men of learning and virtue: 'that youths acquiring " the liberal arts should at the same time be treated as ' slaves; at once studying freedom and practising servitude.'
To this contradiction he is now himself doomed; the yet hardest lesson in his life's hard school. He resisted with all his strength : little less than a whole year, it is said, obstinately resisted, the new contempts and loss of worldly consideration thus bitterly set before him. He would rather have gone to the trade chalked out for him as his rough alternative; when Uncle Contarine interfered.
This was an excellent man; and with some means, though very far from considerable, to do justice to his kindly impulses. In youth he had been the college companion of Bishop Berkeley, and was worthy to have had so
divine a friend. He, too, was a clergyman; and held the living of Kilmore, near Carrick-on-Shannon, which he afterwards changed to that of Oran, near Roscommon; where he built the house of Emblemore, changed to that of Tempe by its subsequent possessor, Mr. Edward Mills, Goldsmith's relative and contemporary.
Mr. Contarine had married Charles Goldsmith's sister (who died at about this time, leaving one child), and was the only member of the Goldsmith family of whom we have solid evidence that he at any time took pains with Oliver, or anything like a real pride in him. He bore the greater part of his school expenses; and was used to receive him with delight in holidays, as the playfellow of his daughter Jane; a year or two older than Oliver, and some seven years after this married to a Mr. Lauder. How little the most charitable of men will make allowance for differences of temper and disposition in the education of youth, is too well known : Mr. Contarine told Oliver that he had himself been a sizar, and that it had not availed to withhold from him the friendship of the great and the good.
His counsel prevailed. The youth went to Dublin, passed the examination, and on the 11th of June, 1745, was admitted, last in the list of eight who so presented themselves, a sizar of Trinity College. There most speedily to earn that experience, which, on his elder brother afterwards consulting him as to the education of his son, prompted him to answer thus: “If he has ambition, strong passions, and an exquisite sensibility of contempt,
do not send him to your college, unless you have no other 'trade for him except your own.'
Flood, who was then in the college, does not seem to have noticed Goldsmith: but a greater than Flood, though himself little notable at college, said he perfectly recollected his old fellow-student, when they afterwards met at Sir Joshua's. Not that there was much for an Edmund Burke to recollect of him. Little went well with Goldsmith in his student course.
He had a menial position, a savage brute for tutor, and few inclinations to the study exacted. He was not indeed, as perhaps never living creature in this world was, without his consolations: he could sing a song well, and, at a new insult or outrage, could blow off excitement through his flute with a kind of desperate mechanical vehemence.' At the worst he had, as he describes it himself, a ‘knack at hoping ;' and at all times, it must with equal certainty be affirmed, a knack at getting into scrapes.
Like Samuel Johnson at Oxford, he avoided lectures when he could, and was a lounger at the college gate. The popular picture of him in these Dublin University days, is little more than of a slow, hesitating, somewhat hollow voice, heard seldom and always to great disadvantage in the class-rooms ; and of a low-sized, thick, robust, ungainly figure, lounging about the college courts on the wait for misery and ill-luck.
His Edgeworthstown schoolfellow, Beatty, had entered among the sizars with him, and for a time shared his rooms. Mr. Prior describes them as the top-rooms adjoining the
library of the building numbered 35, where the name of Oliver Goldsmith may still be seen, scratched by himself upon a window-pane. Another sizar, Marshall, is said to have been another of his chums. Among his occasional associates, were certainly Edward Mills, his relative; Robert Bryanton, a Ballymahon youth, also his relative, of whom he was fond; Charles and Edward Purdon, whom he lived to befriend ; James Willington, whose name he afterwards had permission to use in London, for low literary work he was ashamed to put his own to; Wilson and Kearney, subsequently doctors and fellows of the college; Wolfen, also well known; and Lauchlan Macleane, whose political pamphlets, unaccepted challenge to Wilkes, and general party exertions, made a noise in the world twenty or thirty years later. But it is a saying of Johnson that not till a man becomes famous, are any wonderful feats of memory or condescension performed respecting him ; and it seems tolerably evident that, with the exception of perhaps Bryanton and Beatty, not one owner of the names recounted put himself in friendly relation with the sizar, to elevate, assist, or cheer him. Richard Malone, afterwards Lord Sunderlin ; Bernard, Marlay, and Stopford, afterwards worthy bishops of those names; found nothing more pleasant than to talk of their old fellow-collegian * Doctor Goldsmith,' in the painting-room of Reynolds : but nothing, I suspect, so difficult, thriving lads as they were in these earlier days, than to vouchsafe recognition to the unthriving, depressed, insulted Oliver.