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had the misfortune to be a musician. It is just possible that Johnson was a trifle jealous of him.
Johnson's death occurred in 1784. He was buried in Westminster Abbey near his friend Goldsmith. Boswell tells us that one day Johnson and Goldsmith had visited the Abbey together and that, as they gazed upon the statues of the dead, Johnson solemnly said:
"Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis." “ Perhaps our names also will be mingled with these.”
As they returned homewards through the Strand they came to Temple Bar, where, in those days, the heads of criminals were exhibited as a warning to evil-doers. Goldsmith, pointing at them, slyly repeated the line,
“Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.” Perhaps our names also will be mingled with these.” Johnson, however, has proved the truer prophet. Though Johnson and Goldsmith are not buried together, their names appear together in Westminster Abbey.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. Give an account of Samuel Johnson's life previous to his marriage. 2. Under what conditions did Johnson pass his first years in London? 3. What was meant by a “patron”? 4. What effect did the publication of the Dictionary have upon Johnson's
reputation ? 5. What was the occasion for the writing of “Rasselas”? 6. Name six members of the literary club at which Johnson presided. 7. What claim to fame have David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Samuel
Richardson, Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith ? 8. Describe the character of James Boswell. 9. What makes a great biography? 10. What was the main difference in the literary atmosphere of the London
of Shakespeare and the London of Pope and Johnson ?
Suggested Readings.-Read at random for an hour or so in Boswell's “Life of Johnson.” To most students this is all the advice necessary, but some should also read Macaulay's “ Essay on Croker's Edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson,” the article on Johnson in the Britannica, and Carlyle's Essay on Johnson."
OLIVER GOLDSMITH (1728-1774)
“He wrote like an angel.”—Garrick.
“There was hardly any kind of writing that he did not attempt, and all that he touched he adorned."- Johnson.
To Oliver Goldsmith the world owes, with a single exception, the only novel written in the eighteenth century which can still be read by the average reader with pleasure; the most laughable farce comedy of all time; and the sweetest poem ever written in the heroic couplet.
He was of a Protestant and Saxon family, which had long been settled in Ireland. His father, Charles Goldsmith, was pastor of a place called Pallas, in the county of Longford. There Oliver was born No vember, 1728. The picture of the minister in the “ Deserted Village,” "passing rich with forty pounds a year,” is probably a fairly accurate portrait of the elder Goldsmith. While Oliver was still a child, his father was presented with a living worth about two hundred pounds a year, and the family accordingly quitted their cottage in the wilderness for a spacious house near the village of Lissoy. Here the boy was taught his letters by a maid-servant, and was sent, in his seventh year, to a village school kept by Paddy Byrne, an old quartermaster on half pay, who, in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, taught much local lore about ghosts, banshees, and fairies. This worthy lives and always will live in the picture of the schoolmaster in the “Deserted Village.” From the humble academy kept by the old soldier Goldsmith was removed in his ninth year. He went to several grammar schools, and acquired some knowledge of the ancient languages. He learned also to know at this time the pangs of unpopularity. His features were harsh; the smallpox had set its mark on him with more than usual severity. His stature was small, and his limbs ill put together. The ridicule naturally excited by his appearance among his companions was heightened by a disposition to blunder which he retained to the last. He was pointed out as a fright on the playground, and flogged as a dunce in the schoolroom. On one occasion, however, at least, he is said to have turned the table upon his tor
At a dance, a fiddler, moved to laughter by his awkwardness, called Goldsmith in derision“ Æsop," whereupon the worm turned and addressed the company in the following couplet:
“Our herald hath proclaimed this saying,
See Æsop dancing and his monkey playing." In his seventeenth year Oliver went up to Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizar. The sizars paid nothing for food and tuition, and little for lodging; but they had to sweep the court, carry up the dinner to the fellows' table, change the plates, and pour out the ale of the rulers of the society. While he suffered all the humiliation, Goldsmith threw away all the advantages of his situation. He neglected his studies, stood low at examinations, was turned down to the bottom of his class for playing the buffoon in the lecture room, was reprimanded for pumping on a constable, and was caned by a tutor for giving a ball in his attic room.
Finally, however, Oliver obtained his bachelor's degree, though he stood at the foot of his class. In the meantime his father had died, leaving a mere pittance. During some time he lived in the humble dwelling of his widowed mother. His education seemed to have fitted him to do nothing but to dress in gaudy clothes, to take a hand at cards, to sing Irish airs, to play the flute, to angle in summer, and to tell ghost stories by the fire in winter. He tried five or six professions without success. Then he determined to emigrate to America, but in six weeks came back without a penny. Then he resolved to study law, but was enticed into a gaming house and lost every shilling. Finally he thought of medicine, and, in his twenty-fourth year, was sent to Edinburgh, where he passed eighteen months in picking up some superficial information about chemistry and natural history. Thence he went to Leyden, still pretending to study physic. He left that university in his twenty-seventh year without a degree, with the merest smattering of medical knowledge, and with no property but his clothes and his flute, and set out upon a tour of Europe, rambling on foot through Flanders, France, and Switzerland. Somewhere, perhaps in Italy, he contrived to obtain a medical degree, though how and where are equal mysteries. To the end of his days he was so ignorant of biology that his friends were wont to declare that he could not tell the difference between any two sorts of barnyard fowls until he saw them cooked and on the table.
In 1756 he landed at Dover without a shilling, without a friend,
From the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds and without a calling. Then ensued a period for Goldsmith of sharp distress. He turned strolling player. He pounded drugs. He joined a swarm of beggars. He was for a time the usher of a school and felt the misery of this situation so keenly that he turned booksellers hack; but he soon found the new yoke worse than the old and was glad to become an usher again. He obtained a medical appointment, which was speedily revoked on account of his inability to perform the duties of the place. Finally, at thirty, he turned as a last resort to literature.
During the next six years he produced a succession of articles for reviews, magazines, and newspapers; several children's books; an “Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning in Europe "; a “Life of Beau Nash "; an epitome of “ The History of England ”; and some lively sketches of London society in a series of letters purporting to be addressed by a Chinese traveller to his friends. Though all these works were anonymous, he gradually rose in the estimation of the booksellers, and the circle of his acquaintance widened. He became intimate with Johnson, who was then considered the first of living English writers; with Reynolds, the first of English painters; and with Burke, who had not yet entered parliament, but had distinguished himself by his writings and by the eloquence of his conversation. In 1763 Goldsmith was one of the nine original members of that celebrated fraternity which has sometimes been called the Literary Club, but which has always disclaimed that adjective and still glories in the simple name of The Club.
He was still, however, often reduced to pitiable shifts. Toward the close of 1764 his landlady, exasperated by his failure to pay his rent, called in the help of a sheriff's officer. Goldsmith, in great distress, dispatched a messenger to Johnson, and Johnson sent back the messenger with a guinea and a promise to follow speedily. When he came, he found that Goldsmith had changed the guinea and was scolding his landlady over a bottle of wine. Johnson put the cork into the bottle, and begged his friend to consider calmly how money was to be procured. Goldsmith said that he had a novel ready for the press. Johnson examined it, saw that it had merit, took it to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds, and soon returned with the money. The novel which was thus ushered into the world was The Vicar of Wakefield.”
But before “ The Vicar of Wakefield" appeared in print, Goldsmith had become famous. In Christmas week 1764 he published a