« 이전계속 »
A year and a half after he had entered college, at the commencement of 1747, his father suddenly died. The scanty sums required for his support had been often intercepted, but this stopped them altogether. It may have been the least and most trifling loss connected with that sorrow: but 'squalid poverty,' relieved by occasional gifts, according to his small means, from uncle Contarine, by petty loans from Bryanton and Beatty, or by desperate pawning of his books of study, was Goldsmith's lot thenceforward. Yet even in the depths of that despair, arose the consciousness of faculties reserved for better fortune than continual contempt and failure. He would write Street-Ballads to save himself from actual starving; sell them at the Rein Deer Repository in Mountrath Court for five shillings a piece; and steal out of the college at night to hear them sung.
Happy night! worth all the dreary days! Hidden by some dusky wall, or creeping within darkling shadows of the ill-lighted streets, watched, and waited, this poor neglected sizar, for the only effort of his life which had not wholly failed. Few and dull, perbaps, the beggar's audience at first ; more thronging, eager, and delighted, when he shouted the newly-gotten ware. Cracked enough his ballad-singing tones, I dare say; but harsh, discordant, loud or low, the sweetest music that this earth affords fell with them on the ear of Goldsmith. Gentle faces pleased, old men stopping by the way, young lads venturing a purchase with their last remaining farthing: why
here was A World in little, with its Fame at the sizar's feet! The greater world will be listening one day,' perhaps he muttered, as he turned with a lighter heart to his dull home.
It is said to have been a occurrence when the five shillings of the Rein Deer Repository reached home along with him. It was the most likely, when he was at his utmost need, to stop with some beggar on the road who might seem to him more destitute even than himself. Nor this only. The money gone: often, for the naked shivering wretch, had he slipped off a portion of the scanty clothes he wore, to patch a misery he could not otherwise relieve. To one starving creature with five crying children, he gave at one time the blankets off his bed, and crept himself into the ticking for shelter from the cold.
It is not meant to insist on these things as examples of conduct. 'Sensibility is not Benevolence;' nor will this kind of agonised sympathy with distress, even when graced by an active self-denial, supply the solid duties or satisfactions of life. There are distresses, vast and remote, with which it behoves us still more to sympathise than with those, less really terrible, which only more attract us by intruding on our senses ; and the conscience is too apt to discharge itself of the greater duty by instant and easy attention to the less. So much it is right to interpose when such anecdotes are told. To Goldsmith, all circumstances considered, they are honourable; and it is well to recollect them when the 'neglected opportunities' of his youth are spoken of. Doubtless there were better things to be done, by a man of stronger purpose. But the nature of men is not different from that of other living creatures. It gives the temper and disposition, but not the purture and the culture. These Goldsmith never rightly had, except in such sort as he could himself provide; and now, assuredly, he had not found them in his college. “That strong steady disposition which at once makes men great,' he avowed himself deficient in: but were other dispositions not worth the caring for? His imagination was too warm to relish the cold * logic of Burgersdicius, or the dreary subtleties of
• Smiglesius :' but with nothing less cold or dreary might a warm imagination have been cherished ? When, at the house of Burke, he talked these matters over in after years with Edmond Malone, he said that, though he made no figure in mathematics, he could have turned an ode of Horace with any of them. His tutor, Mr. Theaker Wilder, would as soon have had him turn a lathe.
This tutor, this reverend instructor of youth, was the same who, on one occasion in Dublin streets, sprang at a bound from the pavement on a hackney-coach which was passing at its fastest pace, and felled to the ground the driver, who had accidentally touched his face with the whip. So, mathematics being Mr. Theaker Wilder's intellectual passion, the same strength, agility, and ferocity, which drove him into brawls with hackney-coachmen, he carried to the demonstrations of Euclid: and for this, all his life afterwards, even more than poet Gray, did poor Goldsmith wage war with Euclid. Never had he stood up in his class that this learned savage did not outrage and insult him. Having the misery to take malice for wit, the comic as well as tragic faculty of Mr. Wilder found endless recreation in the awkward, ugly, 'ignorant,' most sensitive young man. There was no pause or limit to the strife between them. The tutor's brutality rose even to personal violence; the pupil's shame and suffering hardened into reckless idleness; and the college career of Oliver Goldsmith was proclaimed a wretched failure.
Let us be thankful that it was no worse; and that
participation in a college riot was after all the highest of his college crimes. Twice indeed he was cautioned for neglecting even his Greek Lecture; but then he was thrice commended for diligence in attending it; and Doctor Kearney said he once got a prize at a Christmas examination in classics, but this seems doubtful. The college riot was the worst to allege against him; and in this there was no very active sin. A scholar had been arrested, and the students resolved to take rough revenge. It was in the summer of 1747. They explored every bailiff's den in Dublin, found the offender by whom the arrest was made, brought him naked to the college pump, washed his delinquency thoroughly out of him, and were so elated with the triumph : and all law, all restraint, and all authority, looked so ludicrous in the person of their miserable drenched representative: that it was on the spot proposed to crown and consummate success by breaking open Newgate and making a general jail delivery. The Black Dog, as the prison was called, stood on the feeblest of legs, and with one small piece of artillery must have gone down for ever ;
but the cannon was with the constable, the assailants were repulsed, and some townsmen attracted by the fray unhappily lost their lives. Five of the ringleaders were discovered and expelled the college; and among five lesser offenders, who were publicly admonished for being present, aiding and abetting, the name of Oliver Goldsmith occurs.
More galled by formal University admonition than by