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Oliver Goldsmith 

B 7 

Lord Macaulay 



H. B. Cotterill, M.A. 

Editor of 'Selections from the Inferno,' Macaulay's 'Milton,' 

Virgil's 'Aeneid I. and VI.,' Goethe's ' Iphigenie,' Boswell's 'Tour,' 

' Extracts from the Nibelungenlied,' etc. 



Macmillan and Co., Limited 

New York : The Macmillan Company 

All rights reserved 




PREFACE, - - - vii 


TEXT, 1 

NOTES, .... ig 


INDEX, 75 


As in the case of my edition of Macaulay's Life of Johnson, 
the notes to this Life of Goldsmith consist mainly of 
illustrative details drawn from writers to whom Macaulay 
was indebted for his materials. 

Macaulay's outlines are, as ever, masterly ; but the 
general effect of his sketch is somewhat meagre and bare 
compared with that of his Samuel Johnson. It does not 
show the same acquaintance, nor the same sympathy, 
with the subject. But, in spite of this, it possesses the 
charm of an artistic composition. It transports us in 
imagination back to the age of Goldsmith ; it brings us 
and him menschlich naher, to use Schiller's fine expression ; 
it makes him for us a real living person. In reading 
Macaulay's words we become personally interested in 
Goldsmith ; this personal interest excites a desire of 
closer acquaintance, and makes us welcome every detail 
which helps to fill up, without blurring, the picture. 

Boswell, with whose book he was intimate, was for 
Macaulay a considerable source of information ; for 
4 honest Goldsmith ' is a conspicuous figure on Boswell's 
canvas. But it was naturally from Goldsmith's biogra 
phers that he drew most largely ; and he seems to have 
drawn not from the earliest of these, such as Bishop 

viii PREFACE. 

Percy and Malone nor from Prior, who deserves in 
dubitably the first place on account of his original 
research and scrupulous accuracy but from the later 
biographies of Washington Irving and Forster, almost 
all his facts, and many of his expressions, being derived 
from these two writers and from Boswell. For this 
reason and because they are easily procurable I have 
made especial use of Washington Irving's and Forster's 
accounts of Goldsmith for purposes of illustration, and 
in case of quotations from Boswell or Goldsmith I have 
made reference to the ' Globe ' Editions, which are also 
fairly inexpensive. 

Of the almost innumerable anecdotes and other details 
at my disposal, I have winnowed out those which seemed 
to me to best supplement Macaulay's narrative. These 
I have tried to so arrange and connect as to form, 
together with the text, a fairly continuous account. 

From the standpoint of 'the shorter the better' the 
length of my notes, as compared with that of the text, 
will appear outrageous. But it should be remembered 
that the object of this edition is not merely to help an 
examination candidate to get up the text, but to give as 
complete a picture as possible of Goldsmith to those who 
may not have time or inclination to work their way 
through thousands of pages. 

I trust that the Chronological Summaries will be of 
use in affording bird's-eye views of the lives of Goldsmith 
and Macaulay. In the Introduction I have also given 
an account of the period of Macaulay's life in which he 
wrote the series of biographical sketches to which his 
Oliver Goldsmith belongs. 

But I should be sorry if by supplying these few facts 


I should offer an inducement to anyone not to procure 
and read, unless he already possesses and has read, that 
most charming of biographies, the Life and Letters of 
Macaulay by his nephew, Sir George Trevelyan. 

H. B. C. 

April, 1904. 


MACAULAY'S Oliver Goldsmith was one of five biographical 
articles which he contributed to the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica. The other four were on Atterbury, Bunyan, 
Johnson, and William Pitt. These Lives were written 
for the eighth edition of the Encyclopaedia, which was 
published between 1854 and 1860. 

As to the exact date at which these Lives were written, 
Sir G. Trevelyan gives us no information, except in 
regard to the last, that of William Pitt. This work, 
which fills about seventy octavo pages, was in hand for 
three-quarters of a year, viz., from November 1857, 
when Macaulay noted in his diary that the plan of a 
good character of Pitt was forming in his mind, until 
the 9th of August 1858, when he made this entry : 'I 
finished and sent off the paper which caused me so much 
trouble. I began it, I see, in last November. What a 
time to have been dawdling over such a trifle ! ' 

As the Lives were doubtless supplied in alphabetical 
order, the Samuel Johnson was probably written in 1856, 
and the Oliver Goldsmith in the early part of the same 
year, or in 1855. 

During the last three or four years of his life Macaulay 
wrote comparatively little. He was, as will be seen from 


the following sketch of this period, often in a state of 
health which made all writing impossible. From time to 
time, however, he worked at the continuation of his 
History, and it was doubtless with the prospect faint 
and ever fainter of some day treating the age of the 
Georges that his mind dwelt once more with a revived 
interest on the subjects of the three last of his mono 

Sir G. Trevelyan quotes from Mr. Adam Black, 
the then proprietor of the Encyclopaedia, as follows : 
'Macaulay had ceased to write for the reviews or 
other periodicals, though often earnestly solicited to do 
so. It is entirely to his friendly feeling that I am 
indebted for these literary gems, which could not have 
been purchased with money ; and it is but justice to his 
memory that I should record, as one of the many 
instances of the kindness and generosity of his heart, 
that he made it a stipulation of his contributing to the 
Encyclopaedia, that remuneration should not be so much 
as mentioned.' 

IN December 1855 appeared the second instalment of 
Macaulay's History of England from the accession of 
James II. The success of these third and fourth 
volumes outrivalled even that of the first two. As 
regards bulk of printed matter and financial results, 
such success had never been attained by any edition of 
any work in any country. The twenty-five thousand 
copies of which the edition consisted fifty -six tons in 
weight were all ordered before the day of publication, 
and within a few weeks a cheque for 20,000 was 
handed over to the author by the publishers 'a fact,' 


says Macaulay, 'quite unprecedented in the history of 
the book trade.' 

But this success had been dearly bought. From the 
summer of 1854 until the autumn of 1855 his History 
had been, as he describes it in the preface to his 
collected Speeches, the one business and pleasure of 
his life. He had worked, says Sir G. Trevelyan, harder 
and ever harder. ' He had gone to his daily labours 
without intermission and without reluctance, until his 
allotted task had been accomplished. . . . His labour, 
though a labour of love, was immense. He almost gave 
up letter-writing ; he quite gave up society ; and at last 
he had not leisure even for his diary.' 

How severe had been the strain on his enfeebled 
health is evident from the feet that, whereas on every 
former occasion the termination of any such task had 
been the signal for the commencement of another, 'in 
1856 summer succeeded to spring and gave place to 
autumn, before he again took pen in hand.' His diary, 
moreover, at this period gives many signs of failing 
vigour. He constantly speaks of his health as confining 
him to his room, and as 'very indifferent/ In spite of 
his courage, there is a tone of anxiety and foreboding. 
'I have no pain,' he writes. 'My faculties are unim 
paired. My spirits are very seldom depressed, and I 
am not without hopes of being set up again.' 

This same year (1856) saw two important changes 
in Macaulay's external life, both caused by his need 
of rest. In January he resigned his seat for Edinburgh, 
feeling that he could no longer ' reasonably expect to be 
ever again capable of performing, even in an imperfect 
manner, those duties which the public has a right to 


expect from every member of the House of Commons ' ; 
and in May he gave up his rooms in the ' Albany,' where 
he had resided for fifteen years, and retired to a little 
house with a garden (Holly Lodge), in a quiet part 
of Campden Hill. 

In the late summer of this year (1856) he was in 
Italy at Milan, Verona, and Venice where he found 
much to interest him in pictures, architecture, antiqui 
ties, and Italian literature. It was scarcely a rest from 
intellectual activity, but was, at least, a complete 
change ; and he seems to have so far regained his vigour 
of mind that soon after his return to England he made a 
serious attempt to set to work at the continuation of his 
history. On the first of October 1856 he entered this 
note in his diary : ' Wrote a sheet of foolscap the first 
of Part iii. God knows whether I shall ever finish that 
part. I begin it with little heart or hope.' 

The attempt, made with such effort and such fore 
boding, was short-lived. Again and again he set to 
work, and ever again the pen fell, as it were, from his 
weary hand. ' I find it difficult,' he says in February of 
1857, 'to settle to my work. This is an old malady of 
mine. ... Of late I have felt this impotence more 
than usual. The chief reason, I believe, is the great 
doubt which I feel whether I shall live long enough to 
finish another volume of my book.' Month after month 
now passed by, and in the next summer (1857) we 
find this note : * How the days steal away, and nothing 
done ! I think often of Johnson's lamentations repeated 
every Easter over his own idleness. . . . Often have I 
felt this morbid incapacity to work, but never so long and 
so strong as of late ; the natural effect of age and eae.' 



Then during a short period he appears to have made 
a little progress with the book. On July 14th he notes 
that he ' wrote a good deal ' on the Darien affair of 
1699. 'The humour,' he says, 'has returned, and I 
shall woo it to continue.' 

But it was not easy to woo. Gradually and unwill 
ingly, says Sir G. Trevelyan, Macaulay 'acquiesced in 
the conviction that he must submit to leave untold that 
very portion of English history which he was competent 
to treat as no man again will treat it.' Instead of 
extending his History, as he had at first intended, to the 
accession of William the Fourth, he began to realise 
that he might be 'well content to be assured that he 
would live to carry it down to the death of his hero, 
William of Orange.' He had no longer, he said, 'any 
real expectation of ever being able to even get to the 

This foreboding was fulfilled. He read much and 
planned much. He travelled, abroad and in Scotland. 
He even spoke once in public at Cambridge, where he 
had been elected High Steward and he intended to 
speak, though he never did speak, in the House of 
Lords, after taking his seat as peer. But that which 
had once been the 'business and pleasure of his life,' 
was put aside from day to day and from month to 
month. Now and then, indeed, during the brief re 
mainder of his life he added a few pages to his great 
work, but not only did he fail to get so far as to the 
Georges ; he did not reach even the death of William 
of Orange and the reign of Queen Anne. Just a fort 
night before his death (December, 1859) he made this 
entry in his diary : ' Finished at last the session of 


1699-1700.' Two days later great weakness super 
vened, caused by heart failure, and on December the 
28th he died. 

Sir G. Trevelyan remarks that the conscientious and 
unsparing industry of Macaulay's former days brought 
him this inestimable reward that the quality of his 
productions remained the same as ever, in spite of the 
rapid decline in his physical strength. 'Instead of 
writing worse,' he says, ' Macaulay only wrote less.' 
Perhaps we may go further. Perhaps it may be safely 
asserted that, instead of writing worse, Macaulay wrote 
towards the end not only less, but also better. And 
this seems really Sir G. Trevelyan 's opinion, although he 
applies to these ' literary gems ' a rather strange standard 
of literary value when he says that ' the five little essays 
are everything which an article in an Encyclopaedia 
should be.' Surely they are something more than 

'The reader/ he continues, 'as he travels softly 
and swiftly along, congratulates himself on having 
lighted upon what he regards as a most fascinating 
literary or political memoir; but the student, on a 
closer examination, discovers that every fact, and date, 
and circumstance is distinctly and faithfully recorded in 
its due chronological sequence. Macaulay's belief about 
himself as a writer was that he improved to the last ; 
and the question of the superiority of his later over his 
earlier manner may securely be staked upon a compari 
son between the article on Johnson in the Edinburgh 
Review and the article on Johnson in the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica. The latter of the two is indeed a model of 


that which its eminent subject l pronounced to be the 
essential qualification of a biographer the art of writing 
trifles with dignity.' 

1 Dr. Hill (4. 34) quotes from Warner as follows : ' Mr. Fowke 
once observed to Dr. Johnson that, in his opinion, the Doctor's 
literary strength lay in writing biography, in which he infinitely 
exceeded all his contemporaries. "Sir," said Johnson, "I 
believe that is true. The dogs don't know how to write trifles 
with dignity.'" 


OLIVER GOLDSMITH, one of the most pleasing English writers 
of the eighteenth century, was of a Protestant and Saxon 
family which had been long settled in Ireland, and which 
had, like most other Protestant and Saxon families, been, in 
troubled times, harassed and put in fear by the native popu 
lation. His father, Charles Goldsmith, studied in the reign 
of Queen Anne at the diocesan school of Elphin, became 
attached to the daughter of the schoolmaster, married her, 
took orders, and settled at a place called Pallas in the county 
of Longford. There he with difficulty supported his wife 10 
and children on what he could earn, partly as a curate and 
partly as a farmer. 

At Pallas Oliver Goldsmith was born in November, 1728.i/<; 
That spot was then, for all practical purposes, almost as 
remote from the busy and splendid capital in which his later 
years were passed, as any clearing in Upper Canada or any \ 
sheep-walk in Australasia now is. Even at this day those 
enthusiasts who venture to make a pilgrimage to the birth 
place of the poet are forced to perform the latter part of 
their journey on foot. The hamlet lies far from any high 20 
road, on a dreary plain which, in wet weather, is often a 
lake. The lanes would break up any jaunting-car to pieces ; 
and there are ruts and sloughs through which the moat 
strongly built wheels cannot be dragged. 

While Oliver was still a child, his father was presented to 
a living worth about 200 a year, in the county of West- 


meath. The family accordingly quitted their cottage in the 
wilderness for a spacious house on a frequented road, near 
the village of Lissoy. Here the boy was taught his letters 

V by a maid-servant, and was sent in his seventh year to a 
village school kept by an old quartermaster on half -pay, who 
professed to teach nothing but reading, writing, and arith 
metic, and who had an inexhaustible fund of stories about 
ghosts, banshees and fairies, about the great Rapparee chiefs, 
Baldearg O'Donnell and galloping Hogan, and about the 

10 exploits of Peterborough and Stanhope, the surprise of Mon- 
juich, and the glorious disaster of Brihuega. This man must 
have been of the Protestant religion ; but he was of the 
aboriginal race, and not only spoke the Irish language, but 
could pour forth unpremeditated Irish verses. Oliver early 
became, and through life continued to be, a passionate 
admirer of the Irish music, and especially of the composi 
tions of Carolan, some of the last notes of whose harp he 
heard. It ought to be added that Oliver, though by birth 
one of the Englishry, and though connected by numerous 

20 ties with the Established Church, never showed the least 
sign of that contemptuous antipathy with which, in his days, 
the ruling minority in Ireland too generally regarded the 
subject majority. So far indeed was he from sharing in 
the opinions and feelings of the caste to which he belonged, 
that he conceived an aversion to the Glorious and Immortal 
Memory, and, even when George the Third was on the throne, 
maintained that nothing but the restoration of the banished 
dynasty could save the country. 

From the humble academy kept by the old soldier Gold- 

30 smith was removed in his ninth year. He went to several 
grammar-schools, and acquired some knowledge of the 
V ancient languages. His life at this time seems to have been 
far from happy. He had, as appears from the admirable 
portrait of him at Knowle, features harsh even to ugliness. 
The small-pox had set its mark on him with more than usual 
severity. His stature was small, and his limbs ill put 


together. Among boys little tenderness is shown to per 
sonal defects ; and the ridicule excited by poor Oliver's 
appearance was heightened by a peculiar simplicity and a 
disposition to blunder which he retained to the last. He 
became the common butt of boys and masters, was pointed 
at as a fright in the playground, and flogged as a dunce in 
the schoolroom. When he had risen to eminence, those who 
bad once derided him ransacked their memory for the events 
of his early years, and recited repartees and couplets which 
had dropped from him, and which, though little noticed at 10 
the time, were supposed, a quarter of a century later, to indi 
cate the powers which produced the Vicar of Wakefield and 
the Deserted Village. 

In his seventeenth year Oliver went up to Trinity College, k/ 
Dublin, as a sizar. The sizars paid nothing for food and 
tuition, and very little for lodging ; but they had to per 
form some menial services from which they have long been 
'relieved. They swept the court : they carried up the 
dinner to the fellows' table, and changed the plates and 
poured out the ale of the rulers of the society. Goldsmith 20 
was quartered, not alone, in a garret, on the window of 
which his name, scrawled by himself, is still read with 
interest. From such garrets many men of less parts than 
his have made their way to the woolsack or to the episcopal 
bench. But Goldsmith, while he suffered all the humilia 
tions, threw away all the advantages, of his situation. He 
neglected the studies of the place, stood low at the exami- ' 
nations, was turned down to the bottom of his class for play 
ing the buffoon in the lecture-room, was severely reprimanded 
for pumping on a constable, and was caned by a brutal 30 
tutor for giving a ball in the attic story of the college to 
some gay youths and damsels from the city. 

While Oliver was leading at Dublin a life divided between 
squalid distress and squalid dissipation, his father died, leav 
ing a mere pittance. The youth obtained his bachelor's 
degree, and left the university. During some time the 


humble dwelling to which his widowed mother had retired 
was his home. He was now in his twenty-first year ; it was 
necessary that he should do something ; and his education 
seemed to have fitted him to do nothing but to dress himself 
in gaudy colours, of which he was as fond as a magpie, 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 in turn without 
success. He applied for ordination ; but, as he applied in 

10 scarlet clothes, he was speedily turned out of the episcopal 
palace. He then became tutor in an opulent family, but 
soon quitted his situation in consequence of a dispute about 
play. Then he determined to emigrate to America. His 
relations, with much satisfaction, saw him set out for Cork 
on a good horse, with thirty pounds in his pocket. But in 
six weeks he came back on a miserable hack, without a 
penny, and informed his mother that the ship in which he 
had taken his passage, having got a fair wind while he was 
at a party of pleasure, had sailed without him. Then he 

20 resolved to study the law. A generous kinsman advanced 
fifty pounds. With this sum Goldsmith went to Dublin, 
was enticed into a gaming-house, and lost every shilling. 
He then thought of medicine. A small purse was made up ; 
and in his twenty-fourth year he was sent to Edinburgh. 
At Edinburgh he passed eighteen months in nominal atten 
dance on lectures, and picked up some superficial informa 
tion about chemistry and natural history. Thence he went 
to Leyden, still pretending to study physics. He left that 
celebrated university, the third university at which he had 

30 resided, 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. His flute, however, 
proved a useful friend. He rambled on foot through Flan 
ders, France, and Switzerland, playing tunes which every 
where set the peasantry dancing, and which often procured 
for him a supper and a bed. He wandered as far as Italy. 


His musical performances, indeed, were not to the taste of 
the Italians ; but he contrived to live on the alms which he ^ 
obtained at the gates of convents. It should, however, be s 
observed that the stories which he told about this part of 
his life ought to be received with great caution ; for strict 
veracity was never one of his virtues ; and a man who is 
ordinarily inaccurate in narration is likely to be more than 
ordinarily inaccurate when he talks about his own travels. \J 
Goldsmith, indeed, was so regardless of truth as to assert in 
print that he was present at a most interesting conversation 10 
between Voltaire and Fontenelle, and that this conversation 
took place in Paris. Now it is certain that Voltaire never 
was within a hundred leagues of Paris during the whole time 
which Goldsmith passed on the Continent. 

In 1756 the wanderer landed at Dover, without a shilling, 
without a friend, and without a calling. He had, indeed, if 
his own unsupported evidence may be trusted, obtained from 
.the University of Padua a doctor's degree ; but this dignity 
proved utterly useless to him. In England his flute was not 
in request : there were no convents ; and he was forced to 20 
have recourse to a series of desperate expedients. He 
turned strolling player ; but his face and figure were ill 
suited to the boards even of the humblest theatre. He 
pounded drugs and ran about London with phials for 
charitable chemists. He joined a swarm of beggars, which 
made its nest in Axe Yard. He was for a time usher of a 
school, and felt the miseries and humiliations of this situa 
tion so keenly that he thought it a promotion to be 
permitted to earn his bread as a bookseller's hack ; but he 
soon found the new yoke more galling than the old one, and 30 
was glad to become an usher again. He obtained a medical 
appointment in the service of the East India Company ; but 
the appointment was speedily revoked. Why it was revoked 
we are not told. The subject was one on which he never 
liked to talk. It is probable that he was incompetent to 
perform the duties of the place. Then he presented himself 


at Surgeons' Hall for examination, as mate to a naval 
hospital. Even to so humble a post he was found unequal. 
By this time the schoolmaster whom he had served for a 
morsel of food and the third part of a bed was no more. 
Nothing remained but to return to the lowest drudgery of 
literature. Goldsmith took a garret in a miserable court, to 
which he had to climb from the brink of Fleet Ditch by a 
dizzy ladder of flagstones called Breakneck Steps. The 
court and the ascent have long disappeared ; but old 

10 Londoners will remember both. Here, at thirty, the 

/ unlucky adventurer sat down to toil like a galley-slave. 

In the succeeding six years he sent to the press some 
2" things which have survived and many which have perished. 
He produced articles for reviews, magazines, and news 
papers ; children's books which, bound in gilt paper and 
adorned with hideous woodcuts, appeared in the window of 
the once far-famed shop at the corner of Saint Paul's Church 
yard ; An Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning in Europe, 
which, though of little or no value, is still reprinted among 

20 his works ; a Life of Beau Nash, which is not reprinted, 
though it well deserves to be so ; a superficial and incorrect, 
but very readable, History of England, in a series of letters 
purporting to be addressed by a nobleman to his son ; and 
some very lively and amusing Sketches of London Society, in 
a series of letters purporting to be addressed by a Chinese 
traveller to his friends. All these works were anonymous ; 
but some of them were well known to be Goldsmith's ; and 
he gradually rose in the estimation of the booksellers for 
whom he drudged. He was, indeed, emphatically a popular 

30 writer. For accurate research or grave disquisition he was 
not well qualified by nature or by education. He knew 
nothing accurately : his reading had been desultory ; nor 
had he meditated deeply on what he had read. He had 
seen much of the world ; but he had noticed and retained 
little more of what he had seen than some grotesque inci 
dents and characters which had happened to strike his 


fancy. But, though his mind was very scantily stored 
with materials, he used what materials he had in such a 
way as to produce a wonderful effect. There have been 
many great writers ; but perhaps no writer was ever more 
uniformly agreeable. His style was always pure and easy, 
and, on proper occasions, pointed and energetic. His 
narratives were always amusing, his descriptions always 
picturesque, his humour rich and joyous, yet not without an 
occasional tinge of amiable sadness. About everything that 
he wrote, serious or sportive, there was a certain natural 10 
grace and decorum, hardly to be expected from a man a 
great part of whose life had been passed among thieves and 
beggars, street- walkers and merry-andrews, in those squalid 
dens which are the reproach of great capitals. 

As his name gradually became known, the circle of his 
acquaintance widened. He was introduced to Johnson, who 
was then considered as the first of living English writers ; to 
Reynolds, the first of English painters ; and to Burke, who 
had not yet entered parliament, but had distinguished him 
self greatly by his writings and by the eloquence of his 20 
conversation. With these eminent men Goldsmith became -, 
intimate. In 1763 he was one of the nine original members ' ' ^Of' 
of that celebrated fraternity which has sometimes been called % 
the Literary Club, but which has always disclaimed that ,' fy 
epithet, and still glories in the simple name of The Club. 

By this time Goldsmith had quitted his miserable dwell 
ing at the top of Breakneck Steps, and had taken chambers 
in the more civilized region of the Inns of Court. But he 
was still often reduced to pitiable shifts. Towards the close 
of 1764 his rent was so long in arrear that his landlady one 30 
morning called in the help of a sheriffs officer. The debtor, 
in great perplexity, despatched a messenger to Johnson ; and 
Johnson, always friendly, though often surly, sent back the 
messenger with a guinea, and promised to follow speedily. 
He came, and found that Goldsmith had changed the 
guinea, and was railing at the landlady over a bottle of 


Madeira. Johnson put the cork into the bottle, and 
entreated his friend to consider calmly how money was to be 
procured. Goldsmith said that he had a novel ready for the 
press. Johnson glanced at the manuscript, saw that there 
were good things in it, took it to a bookseller, sold it for 
60, and soon returned with the money. The rent was 
paid, and the sheriffs officer withdrew. According to one 
story, Goldsmith gave his landlady a sharp reprimand for 
her treatment of him ; according to another, he insisted on 

10 her joining him in a bowl of punch. Both stories are prob 
ably true. The novel which was thus ushered into the world 
was the Vicar of Wakefield. 

But, before the Vicar of Wakefield appeared in print, came 
the great crisis of Goldsmith's literary life. In Christmas 
week, 1764, he published a poem entitled the Traveller. It 
was the first work to which he had put his name, and it 
at once raised him to the rank of a legitimate English classic. 
The opinion of the most skilful critics was, that nothing 
finer had appeared in verse since the fourth book of the 

20 Dunciad. In one respect the Traveller differs from all Gold 
smith's other writings. In general his designs were bad, 
and his execution good. In the Traveller, the execution, 
though deserving of much praise, is far inferior to the 
design. No philosophical poem, ancient or modern, has a 
plaa so noble, and at the same time so simple. An English 
wanderer, seated on a crag among the Alps, near the point 
where three great countries meet, looks down on the bound 
less prospect, reviews his long pilgrimage, recalls the varieties 
of scenery, of climate, of government, of religion, of national 

30 character, which he has observed, and comes to the conclusion, 
just or unjust, that our happiness depends little on political 
institutions, and much on the temper and regulation of our 
own minds. 

While the fourth edition of the Traveller was on the 
counters of the booksellers, the Vicar of Wakefield appeared, 
and rapidly obtained a popularity which has lasted down to 


our own time, and which is likely to last as long as our 
language. The fable is indeed one of the worst that ever 
was constructed. It wants, not merely that probability 
which ought to be found in a tale of common English life, 
but that consistency which ought to be found even in the 
wildest fiction about witches, giants, and fairies. But the 
earlier chapters have all the sweetness of pastoral poetry, l 
together with all the vivacity of comedy. Moses and his 
spectacles, the vicar and his monogamy, the sharper and his 
cosmogony, the squire proving from Aristotle that relatives 10 
are related, Olivia preparing herself for the arduous task of 
converting a rakish lover by studying the controversy 
between Robinson Crusoe and Friday, the great ladies with 
their scandal about Sir Tomkyn's amours and Dr. Burdock's 
verses, and Mr. Burchell with his " Fudge," have caused as 
much harmless mirth as has ever been caused by matter 
packed into so small a number of pages. The latter part of 
the tale is unworthy of the beginning. As we approach the 
catastrophe, the absurdities lie thicker and thicker, and the 
gleams of pleasantry become rarer and rarer. 20 

The success which had attended Goldsmith as a novelist 
emboldened him to try his fortune as a dramatist. He 
wrote the Good-natured Man, a piece which had a worse fate 
than it deserved. Garrick refused to produce it at Drury 
Lane. It was acted at Co vent Garden in 1768, but was 
coldly received. The author, however, cleared by his benefit 
nights, and by the sale of the copyright, no less than 500, 
five times as much as he had made by the Traveller and the 
Vicar of Wakefield together. The plot of the Good-natured 
Man is, like almost all Goldsmith's plots, very ill constructed. 30 
But some passages are exquisitely ludicrous ; much more 
ludicrous, indeed, than suited the taste of the town at that 
time. A canting, mawkish play, entitled False Delicacy had 
just had an immense run. Sentimentality was all the mode. 
During some years, more tears were shed at comedies than 
at tragedies, and a pleasantry which moved the audience to 


anything more than a grave smile was reprobated as low. 
It is not strange, therefore, that the very best scene in the 
Good-natured Man, that in which Miss Richland finds her 
lover attended by the bailiff and the bailiff's follower in full 
court dresses, should have been mercilessly hissed, and 
should have been omitted after the first night. 

In 1770 appeared the Deserted Village. In mere diction 
and versification this celebrated poem is fully equal, perhaps 
superior, to the Traveller : and it is generally preferred to 

10 the Traveller by that large class of readers who think, with 
Bayes in the Kehearsal, that the only use of a plan is to 
, A bring in fine things. More discerning judges, however, 
// while they admire the beauty of the details, are shocked 
* " by one unpardonable fault which pervades the whole. The 
fault we mean is not that theory about wealth and luxury 
which has so often been censured by political economists. 
The theory is indeed false : but the poem, considered merely" 
as a poem, is not necessarily the worse on that account. 
The finest poem in the Latin language, indeed the finest 

20 didactic poem in any language, was written in defence of the 
silliest and meanest of all systems of natural and moral 
philosophy. A. poet may easily be pardoned for reasoning 
ill ; but he cannot be pardoned for describing ill, for observ 
ing the world in which he lives so carelessly that his por 
traits bear no resemblance to the originals, for exhibiting as 
copies from real life monstrous combinations of things which 
never were and never could be found together. What 
would be thought of a painter who should mix August and 
January in one landscape, who should introduce a frozen 

30 river into a harvest scene ? Would it be a sufficient defence 
of such a picture to say that every part was exquisitely 
coloured, that the green hedges, the apple-trees loaded with 
fruit, the wagons reeling under the yellow sheaves, and the 
sun-burned reapers wiping their foreheads, were very fine, 
and that the ice and the boys sliding were also very fine ? 
j To such a picture the Deserted Village bears a great resem- 


blance. It is made up of incongruous parts. The village in I ~f~ 
its happy days is a true English village. The village in its 
decay is an Irish village. The felicity and the misery which \ 
Goldsmith has brought close together belong to two different 
countries, and to two different stages in the progress of 
society. He had assuredly never seen in his native island 
such a rural paradise, such a seat of plenty, content, and 
tranquillity, as his " Auburn." He had assuredly never seen 
in England all the inhabitants of such a paradise turned out 
of their homes in one day and forced to emigrate in a body 10 
to America. The hamlet he had probably seen in Kent ; 
the ejectment he had probably seen in Munster : but, by 
joining the two, he has produced something, which never 
was and never will be seen in any part of the world. 

In 1773 Goldsmith tried his chance at Covent Garden 
with a second play, She Stoops to Conquer. The manager 
was, not without great difficulty, induced to bring this 
piece out. The sentimental comedy still reigned ; and 
Goldsmith's comedies were not sentimental. The Good- 
natured Man had been too funny to succeed ; yet the mirth 20 
of the Good-natured Man was sober when compared with the 
rich drollery of She Stoops to Conquer, which is, in truth, an 
incomparable farce in five acts. On this occasion, however, 
genius triumphed. Pit, boxes, and galleries, were in a 
constant roar of laughter. If any bigoted admirer of Kelly 
and Cumberland ventured to hiss or groan, he was speedily 
silenced by a general cry of " turn him out," or " throw him 
over." Two generations have since confirmed the verdict 
which was pronounced on that night. 

While Goldsmith was writing the Deserted Village and 30 
She Stoops to Conquer, he was employed on works of a very 
different kind, works from which he derived little reputation 
but much profit. He compiled for the use of schools a 
History of Rome, by which he made 300, a History of 
England, by which he made 600, a History of Greece, for 
which he received 250, a Natural History, for which the 


booksellers covenanted to pay him 800 guineas. These 
works he produced without any elaborate research, by 
merely selecting, abridging, and translating into his own 
f clear, pure, and flowing language what he found in books 
well known to the world, but too bulky or too dry for boys 
and girls. He committed some strange blunders ; for he 
knew nothing with accuracy. Thus in his History of Eng 
land, he tells us that Naseby is in Yorkshire ; nor did he 
correct this mistake when the book was reprinted. He was 

10 very nearly hoaxed into putting into the History of Greece 

* an account of a battle between Alexander the Great and 

Montezuraa. In his Animated Nature he relates, with faith 

and with perfect gravity, all the most absurd lies which he 

*TO could find in books of travels about gigantic Patagonians, 

monkeys that preach sermons, nightingales that repeat long 

conversations. "If he can tell a horse from a cow," said 

Johnson, " that is the extent of his knowledge of zoology." 

How little Goldsmith was qualiBed to write about the 

physical sciences is sufficiently proved by two anecdotes. 

20 He on one occasion denied that the sun is longer in the 
northern than in the southern signs. It was in vain to cite 
the authority of Maupertuis. " Maupertuis ! " he cried, " I 
understand those matters better than Maupertuis." On 
another occasion he, in defiance of the evidence of his own 
senses, maintained obstinately, and even angrily, that he 
chewed his dinner by moving his upper jaw. 

Yet, ignorant as Goldsmith was, few writers have done 
more to make the first steps in the laborious road to know 
ledge easy and pleasant. His compilations are widely 

30 distinguished from the compilations of ordinary book 
makers. He was a great, perhaps an unequalled, master of 
the arts of selection and condensation. In these respects his 
histories of Rome and of England, and still more his own 
abridgments of these histories, well deserve to be studied. 
In general nothing is less attractive than an epitome : but 
the epitomes of Goldsmith, even when most concise, are 


always amusing ; and to read them is considered by in 
telligent children, not as a task, but as a pleasure. 

Goldsmith might now be considered as a prosperous man. 
He had the means of living in comfort, and even in what to 
one who had so often slept in barns and on bulks must have 
been luxury. His fame was great and was constantly 
rising. He lived in what was intellectually far the best 
society of the kingdom, in a society in which no talent or 
accomplishment was wanting, and in which the art of con 
versation was cultivated with splendid success. There 10 
probably were never four talkers more admirable in four 
different ways than Johnson, Burke, Beauclerk, and Garrick ; 
and Goldsmith was on terms of intimacy with all the four. 
He aspired to share in their colloquial renown : but never 
was ambition more unfortunate. It may seem strange 
that a man who wrote with so much perspicuity, vivacity,/ 
and grace, should have been, whenever he took a part in 
conversation, an empty, noisy, blundering rattle. But 
on this point the evidence is overwhelming. So extra 
ordinary was the contrast between Goldsmith's published 20 
works and the silly things which he said, that Horace 
Walpole described him as an inspired idiot. "Noll," said *' 
Garrick, "wrote like an angel, and talked like poor Poll." 
Chamier declared that it was a hard exercise of faith to 
believe that so foolish a chatterer could have really written 
the Traveller. ' Even Boswell could say, with contemptuous 
compassion, that he liked very well to hear honest Gold 
smith run on. " Yes, sir," said Johnson, " but he should not 
like to hear himself." Minds differ as rivers differ. There 
are transparent and sparkling rivers from which it is delight- 30 
f ul to drink as they flow : to such rivers the minds of such 
men as Burke and Johnson may be compared. But there 
are rivers of which the water when first drawn is turbid 
and noisome, but becomes pellucid as crystal, and delicious 
to the taste, if it be suffered to stand till it has deposited a 
sediment ; and such a river is a type of the mind of Gold- 


smith. His first thoughts on every subject were confused 
even to absurdity ; but they required only a little time to 
work themselves clear. When he wrote they had that time ; 
and therefore his readers pronounced him a man of genius : 
but when he talked he talked nonsense, and made himself 
the laughing-stock of his hearers. He was painfully sensible 
of his inferiority in conversation ; he felt every failure 
keenly ; yet he had not sufficient judgment and self- 
command to hold his tongue. His animal spirits and vanity 

10 were always impelling him to try to do the one thing which 
he could not do. After every attempt he felt that he had 
exposed himself, and writhed with shame and vexation ; yet 
the next moment he began again. 

His associates seem to have regarded him with kindness, 
which, in spite of their admiration of his writings, was not 
unmixed with contempt. In truth, there was in his character 
much to love, but very little to respect. His heart was soft 
even to weakness : he was so generous that he quite forgot 
to be just ; he forgave injuries so readily that he might be 

20 said to invite them ; and was so liberal to beggars that he 
had nothing left for his tailor and his butcher. He was vain, 
sensual, frivolous, profuse, improvident. One vice of a 
darker shade was imputed to him, envy. But there is not 
the least reason to believe that this bad passion, though it 
sometimes made him wince and utter fretful exclamations, 
ever impelled him to injure by wicked arts the reputation of 
any of his rivals. The truth probably is, that he was not 
more envious, but merely less prudent, than his neighbours. 
His heart was on his lips. All those small jealousies, which 

30 are but too common among men of letters, but which a man 
of letters who is also a man of the world does his best to 
conceal, Goldsmith avowed with the simplicity of a child. 
When he was envious, instead of affecting indifference, 
instead of damning with faint praise, instead of doing 
injuries slily and in the dark, he told everybody that he was 
envious. "Do not, pray, do not talk of Johnson in such 


terms," he said to Boswell ; "you harrow up my very soul." 
George Steevens and Cumberland were men far too cunning 
to say such a thing. They would have echoed the praises of 
the man whom they envied, and then have sent to the news 
papers anonymous libels upon him. Both what was good 
and what was bad in Goldsmith's character was to his 
associates a perfect security that he would never commit 
such villainy. He was neither ill-natured enough, nor long- ' 
headed enough, to be guilty of any malicious act which 
required contrivance and disguise. 10 

Goldsmith has sometimes been represented as a man of 
genius, cruelly treated by the world, and doomed to struggle 
with difficulties which at last broke his heart. But no 
representation can be more remote from the truth. He did, 
indeed, go through much sharp misery before he had done 
anything considerable in literature. But, after his name had 
appeared on the title-page of the Traveller, he had none but 
himself to blame for his distresses. His average income, 
during the last seven years of his life, certainly exceeded 
400 a year : and 400 a year ranked, among the incomes of 20 
that day, at least as high as 800 a year would rank at 
present. A single man living in the Temple with 400 a 
year might then be called opulent. Not one in ten of the 
young gentlemen of good families who were studying the 
law there had so much. But all the wealth which Lord 
Clive had brought from Bengal and Sir Lawrence Dundas 
from Germany, joined together would not have sufficed for 
Goldsmith. He spent twice as much as he had. He wore 
fine clothes, gave dinners of several courses, paid court to 
venal beauties. He had also, it should be remembered, to 30 
the honour of his heart, though not of his head, a guinea, or 
five, or ten, according to the state of his purse, ready for any 
tale of distress, true or false. But it was not in dress or 
feasting, in promiscuous amours or promiscuous charities 
that his chief expense lay. He had been from boyhood 
a gambler, and at once the most sanguine and the most 


unskilful of gamblers. For a time he put off the day of 
inevitable ruin by temporary expedients. He obtained 
advances from booksellers by promising to execute works 
which he never began. But at length this source of supply 
failed. He owed more than 2000 ; and he saw no hope 
of extrication from his embarrassments. His spirits and 
health gave way. He was attacked by a nervous fever, 
which he thought himself competent to treat. It would 
have been happy for him if his medical skill had been 

10 appreciated as justly by himself as by others. Notwith 
standing the degree which he pretended to have received at 
Padua, he could procure no patients. " I do not practise," 
he once said ; " I make it a rule to prescribe only for my 
friends." " Pray, dear doctor," said Beauclerk, " alter your 
rule ; and prescribe only for your enemies." Goldsmith 
now, in spite of this excellent advice, prescribed for himself. 
The remedy aggravated the malady. The sick man was 
induced to call in real physicians ; and they at one time 
imagined that they had cured the disease. Still his weak- 

20 ness and restlessness continued. He could get no sleep. He 
could take no food. " You are worse," said one of his 
medical attendants, " than you should be from the degree of 
fever which you have. Is your mind at ease ? " " No, it is 
not," were the last recorded words of Oliver Goldsmith. He 
died on the third of April, 1774, in his forty-sixth year. 
He was laid in the churchyard of the Temple ; but the spot 
was not marked by any inscription, and is now forgotten. 
The coffin was followed by Burke and Reynolds. Both these 
great men were sincere mourners. Burke, when he heard of 

30 Goldsmith's death, had burst into a flood of tears. Reynolds 
had been so much moved by the news that he had flung 
aside his brush and palette for the day. 

A short time after Goldsmith's death, a little poem 
appeared, which will, as long as our language lasts, associate 
the names of his two illustrious friends with his own. It 
has already been mentioned that he sometimes felt keenly 


the sarcasm which his wild blundering talk brought upon 
him. - He was, not long before his last illness, provoked into 
retaliating. He wisely betook himself to his pen ; and at 
that weapon he proved himself a match for all his assailants 
together. Within a small compass he drew with a singu 
larly easy and vigorous pencil the characters of nine or ten 
of his intimate associates. Though this little work did not 
receive his last touches, it must always be regarded as a 
masterpiece. It is impossible, however, not to wish that 
four or five likenesses which have no interest for posterity 10 
were wanting to that noble gallery, and that their places 
were supplied by sketches of Johnson and Gibbon, as happy 
and vivid as the sketches of Burke and Garrick. 

Some of Goldsmith's friends and admirers honoured him 
with a cenotaph in Westminster Abbey. Nollekens was the 
sculptor ; and Johnson wrote the inscription. It is much to 
be lamented that Johnson did not leave to posterity a more 
durable and a more valuable memorial of his friend. A life 
of Goldsmith would have been an inestimable addition to 
the Lives of the Poets. No man appreciated Goldsmith's 20 
writings more justly than Johnson : no man was better 
acquainted with Goldsmith's character and habits ; and 
no man was more competent to delineate with truth and 
spirit the peculiarities of a mind in which great powers were 
found in company with great weaknesses. But the list of 
poets to whose works Johnson was requested by the book 
sellers to furnish prefaces ended with Lyttelton, who died in 
1773. The line seems to have been drawn expressly for the 
purpose of excluding the person whose portrait would have 
most fitly closed the series. Goldsmith, however, has been 30 
fortunate in his biographers. Within a few years his life 
has been written by Mr. Prior,* by Mr. Washington Irving, 
and by Mr. Forster. The diligence of Mr. Prior deserves 
great praise ; the style of Mr. Washington Irving is always 
pleasing ; but the highest place must, in justice, be assigned 
to the eminently interesting work of Mr. Forster. 


(F.)=Forster, (W. I.) = Washington Irving. 

(B.)= Bos well's Life of Johnson (Globe edition). 

(Black)=Mr. Black's Life of Goldsmith (English Men of Lettert). 

ToMr=my edition of Boswell's Tour in this Series. 

(Masson)=Prof. Masson's Memoir in the Globe edition of Goldsmith's Works. 

1. 2. Saxon, or rather its Gaelic equivalent Sassenach, is much 
used by the native Irish and Scotch to denote an Englishman. 
Thus, as Sir W. Scott tells us, Johnson was long remembered by 
the Hebridean natives as the ' Sassenach More ' (Great English 
man). For the Irish Celt the word still is apt to excite feelings 
that even at the time of Johnson's visit, not thirty years after 
Culloden, were apparently almost entirely extinguished in Scot 
land even in the breasts of the most obstinate Jacobites. I 
have found no mention of persecutions endured by Goldsmith's 
forbears, but as the family (which came from S. England) pro 
duced a series of Protestant clergymen and apparently held 
staunchly to the old country and its new dynasty, it doubtless 
had a rough time of it during William's reign ; and perhaps 
earlier in such ' troubled times ' as those of Wentworth 
(Stafford) and Cromwell and in the terrible days of the Irish 

1. 7. Elphin, in. Roscommon. For the bishop of Elphin, see 
below, p. 4. 

1. 8. the schoolmaster : the Rev. Oliver Jones, after whom 
the poet received his Cromwellian name. Charles Goldsmith 
and Anne Jones were married in May, 1718. 

1. 9. Pallas : or Pallasmore : ' a remote and almost inaccessible 
Irish village on the southern banks of the river Inny ' (F.). 

1. 11. what he could earn. His stipend, ' with the help of 
some fields he farmed and occasional duties performed for the 

NOTES. 19 

rector of the adjoining parish of Kilkenny West (the Rev. Mr. 
Green), who was uncle to his wife, averaged 40 a year' (F.). 
In Goldsmith's Deserted Village, the village preacher (drawn 
partly perhaps from his father and partly from his brother 
Henry) is ' passing rich with forty pounds a year.' 

1. 13. The date of Goldsmith's birth is given in Johnson's 
epitaph, on the marble tablet in Westminster Abbey, as Nov. 29, 
1731. (See B. 384 and below on 17. 16.) His biographers give 
Nov. 10, 1728. In the old family Bible the birth page is un 
fortunately torn in such a way that the date of Oliver's birth, as 
also the year of the birth of Henry and Jane (who were probably 
twins), has disappeared. If, as is now believed, Goldsmith 
entered Trinity College in June, 1744, ' at the age of fifteen,' it 
is evident that he must have been born in the latter half of 1728. 
See below on 3. 14. Ten days before the birth of Goldsmith 
(i.e. Oct. 31, 1728) Johnson entered Pembroke College, Oxford, 
being then eighteen. 

1. 18. the birth-place : ' an old, half-rustic mansion that stood 
on a rising ground in a rough, lonely part of the country, over 
looking a low tract occasionally flooded by the River Inny ' 
(W. I.). With his predilection for the supernatural, Washing 
ton Irving recounts that the old house, afterwards long un- 
tehanted, became a resort of the ' good people. ' All attempts to 
repair it were in vain ; ' the fairies battled stoutly to maintain 
possession. A huge mis-shapen hob-goblin used to bestride the 
bouse every evening with an immense pair of* jack-boots, which 
he would thrust through the roof, kicking to pieces all the 
work of the preceding day. The house was therefore left to its 
fate, and went to ruin.' 

1. 27. a living : i.e. of Kilkenny West, a parish adjoining 
that of Pallasmore. Lissoy is about six miles to the south from 
Pallasmore, and lies in Co. Westmeath, not Longford, halfway 
between Ballymahon and Athlone, in the valley of the Inny, and 
not far from the east shore of Lough Ree. Lissoy was doubtless 
the germ from which Goldsmith's imagination developed ' Sweet 
Auburn.' See on 11. 1. The living became vacant by the 
death of Mr. Green (see on 1. 11.), one of the clerical members 
of the family. Another a Goldsmith was Dean of Cloyne. 
See on 4. 23. 

2- 1. The family. As the move took place in 1730, Oliver was 
yet an infant of about 1$ years. The first-born, Margaret (b. 1719), 
had died young. Catharine (b. 1721) came next. Then Henry 
and Jane, the twins (b. probably 1722). Then came Oliver, 
fifth child, and second son. After the move to Lissoy were 
born: Maurice (1736), Charles (1737), John (1740). John died 
young. Charles, after visiting Oliver in London, went to 


Jamaica, where he lived until 1804. Maurice became a cabinet 
maker and kept a small shop in Charlestown (Roscommon), and 
' departed from a miserable life ' in 1792. Henry, Oliver's best- 
loved brother and 'earliest friend' (as he calls him in the 
Traveller) 'followed his father's calling and died, as he had 
lived, a humble village preacher and schoolmaster' (F.). He 
gained a scholarship at Dublin, and might have perhaps ' done 
well," as one says, but about the time of his father's death he 
accepted the miserable little living of Pallas, with its 40 a year, 
formerly his father's, and acted also as curate at Kilkenny West 
and as village schoolmaster at Lissoy. He died at Athlone in 
May, 1768. The 'village preacher' of the Deserted Village is 
drawn partly from him and partly from his father. Catharine 
married, secretly, a rich young fellow called Hodson (son of a 
neighbouring landed proprietor) who was taking private tuition 
with Henry. Her father was much disturbed at what he 
regarded as the disgrace, and, to clear the family of all suspicion 
of complicity, he paid over 400 as Catharine's dowry thus 
reducing himself to great straits. The Hodsons took over the 
house at Lissoy after the old man's death. The twin-sister of 
Henry, Jane, married a poor and ' unprosperous ' man named 
Johnston. In a letter to Henry who by this time (1759) was 
experiencing difficulties with an increasing family and a diminu 
tive income Goldsmith asks for news about ' poor Jenny,' and 
adds : ' yet her husband loves her. If so, she cannot be 
unhappy. ' Goldsmith's mother, after the death of the father in 
1747, having given up the Lissoy house to Catharine (Hodson), 
took a small cottage at Ballymahon. This was Goldsmith's 
home for two years (see 4. 1.). In the above-mentioned letter 
(1759) he speaks of his mother as 'almost blind'; and she 
evidently did not live much longer. 

2. 4. a maid-servant. She was a 'trusted dependant... 
related to the family, ... afterwards known as Elizabeth Delap 
and schoolmistress of Lissoy ... At the ripe age of ninety, when 
the great author had been thirteen years in his grave, she 
boasted with her last breath of having taught him his letters ' 
(F.). Her report was : ' Never was so dull a boy. He seemed 
impenetrably stupid.' As Johnson said to Boswell : ' Goldsmith 
was a plant that flowered late. ' 

2- 5. old quartermaster : Thomas 'commonly and irreverently 
named Paddy ' Byrne. He ' had been educated for a pedagogue, 
but had enlisted in the army, served abroad during the wars in 
Queen Anne's time, and had risen to the rank of a quartermaster 
of a regiment in Spain' (W. I.). He is evidently the 'village 
master' in the Deserted Village, though some of his traits are 
transferred to the ' broken soldier,' who ' shoulder'd his crutch 
and show'd how fields were won. ' 

NOTES. 21 

2. 8. banshees : from Gael, ban-sith, ' woman-fairy ' : the 
name given in Ireland and parts of Scotland to a female spirit 
that is believed to 'attach herself to a particular house, and to 
appear before the death of one of the family ' (Diet.). 

2- 8. Rapparee chiefs. Rdbaire in Gaelic means ' robber,' 
with which word it is cognate. Cf. Germ. JRduber, rauben, raffen, 
etc. , Fr. rober, and our reave, rob, etc. , and perhaps Lat. raptor, 
rapere, etc. The name was given especially to those of the Irish 
army of James II. who, after the capitulation of Limerick (1691), 
refused to, or were not permitted to, follow Scarsfield and his ten 
thousand to France, and take service there under James and 
Louis XIV. (like Dundee's Highlanders after Killiecrankie), but 
who remained in Ireland and took to the hills as outlaws and 

2. 9. Baldearg ( ' Red-spot ') O'Donnell was by no means a 
Rapparee. He was descended from the Tirconnail chieftains (of 
Donegal). He served in the Spanish army, and later under 
James II. ; but after the battle of Aughrim and the capitulation 
of Limerick he went over with 1200 men to King William, 
having secured pardon and 500 a year. Of ' galloping Hogan ' 
I can discover nothing. He is more likely to have been a 
genuine rdbaire. 

'2. 10. Peterborough : Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough : 
' if not,' says Macaulay, ' the greatest, yet assuredly the most 
extraordinary character of that age, the king of Sweden (Charles 
XII.) himself not excepted.' For a description of his character 
and his brilliant exploits when in command of a body of English 
and Dutch troops in Spain (1705-7) see Macaulay 's Essay on 
Lord Mahon's War of the Succession in Spain (pop. edn., p. 253 
sq.). The capture of Monjuich, the key-fortress of Barcelona, 
was the first and perhaps the most brilliant of these exploits. 
Stanhope was in command under Peterborough on this occasion. 
Later (1710) he was overtaken by the Duke of Vendome at the 
town Brihuega, and after expending all his ammunition and 
seeing ' that resistance could produce only a useless carnage,' he 
capitulated (Essay a, p. 260). 

2. 14. Irish verses. ' Another trait of his motley preceptor 
Byrne was a disposition to dabble in (Irish ?) poetry, and this 
likewise was caught by his pupil.' Some of the young Oliver's 
surely not Irish verses, ' scribbled on small scraps of paper,' 
were 'conveyed to his mother,' who thereupon determined that 
he should have a learned education instead of being apprenticed 
to trade, as his father had intended. Hence it came that Gold 
smith was 'devoted to poverty and the Muse ' (W. I.). If only 
it had been to any one or to all of the Nine ! But alas, it 
was to the Muse of hackwork that his life was to be mostly 


2. 17. Turlougli Carolan : called the last Irish bard. He was 
a descendant of some old Irish tribe, and was born at Nobber, 
near Newton, in Meath, about 1670. In his eighteenth year he 
lost his eyesight through smallpox. He was kindly treated by 
the M'Dermott family (whose praises he sang in his verses), and 
was provided by them with a horse, a harp, and an attendant. 
He roamed about the country (mostly in Connaught) playing 
and singing his own tunes and verses. It is said that he knew 
no English, or very little. His Erse poems were published, with 
an English translation, by Furlong (1831). Many of his MSS. 
are in the British Museum. He died in 1738, and was buried at 
Kilronan. There is a monument to Carolan in St. Patrick's 
Cathedral, Dublin. It consists of a bas-relief portrait of the 
bard playing on his harp. One of Goldsmith's minor essays 
(Globe edn., p. 343) is on Carolan. 

2. 21. contemptuous antipathy. Macaulay himself iu spite 
of his admiration for Cromwell and William of Orange as an 
enlightened Whig naturally supported the ' Catholic claims ' as 
well as Unitarian claims and others, including the African 
Negro's claims and regarded, he said, ' the Established Church 
of Ireland as the most absurd of all the institutions of the civil 
ised world.' (It was disestablished in 1869.) See his speech on 
Maynooth College (pop. edn., p. 175), in which he describes the 
wealth and luxury of the English Universities, and advocates a 
more liberal spirit towards the Roman Catholic subject majority 
as alone able to ' promote the real Union of Great Britain and 
Ireland.' The Roman Catholic University question in Ireland 
is at present exciting much discussion. 

2. 25. the Glorious and Immortal Memory : the form of words 
in which the Orangemen and Englishmen of Ireland toasted the 
late King William. (The Jacobite toast was ' the king over the 
water,' or simply ' the king,' the toaster's wineglass being held 
over a dessert finger-glass containing water.) Tories, such as 
Johnson, naturally took side with the Irish Catholics. ' The 
Irish," he once exclaimed, ' are in a most unnatural state ; for we 
see there the minority prevailing over the majority. There is no 
instance, even in the ten persecutions, of such severity as that 
which the Protestants of Ireland have exercised against the 
Catholics. . . . King William was not their lawful sovereign ; he 
had not been acknowledged by the Parliament of Ireland when 
they appeared in arms against him ' (B. 268). 

2- 27. the restoration... Goldsmith did not trouble himself 
much about transient phases of politics. He seems seldom to 
have uttered any opinion on the subject of party politics, though 
always ready to discuss fundamental questions (such as that of 
luxury and population) from a theoretic point of view. It was 
hia contempt for all political feuds rather than any special hos- 

NOTES. 23 

tility to the Government whicb^ induced him, in 1767, to reject 
with disdain an offer that it made him through Parson Scott. 
' I can earn as much as will supply my wants,' he said, ' without 
writing for any party.' ' And so I left him in his garret,' re 
ported the clerical intriguer. 

What Macaulay here refers to is evidently a rather vague 
expression used (in 1773) by Goldsmith during a conversation 
with General Paoli, who had spoken of ' happy rebellions. ' 
Goldsmith allowed that, though we have not the phrase, we 
have the thing. ' Yes all our happy rebellions ! ' he exclaimed. 
1 They have hurt our constitution, and will hurt it, till we mend 
it by another happy rebellion. ' Boswell's comment is : ' I never 
before discovered that my friend Goldsmith had so much of the 
old prejudice in him.' 

2- 30. was removed. In 1735, when seven years old, he had 
' an attack of confluent smallpox, which nearly proved mortal ' (F. ). 
In the next year he attended Mr. Griffin's school at Elphin, 
being lodged and boarded at the house of his uncle, John Gold 
smith, who lived at Ballyoughter. When eleven (1739) he was 
sent to another school at Athlone. Two years later (1741) he 
was removed to a higher ' academy ' at Edgeworthstown, kept 
by a Rev. Patrick Hughes, where he remained for nearly four 
years, preparing for the University. The considerable expense 
Of his schooling was borne by various relatives, especially by his 
uncle, the Rev. Thomas Contarine, who was a widower with one 
daughter, Jane. Uncle Contarine proved to the last a most 
generous and long-suffering helper of the improvident Oliver. 
It was on the way to or from Edgeworthstown, towards the end 
of his schooldays, that he had (it is said) the ludicrous adventure 
which many years afterwards he used as the main incident in 
She Stoops to Conquer. Being benighted, and duped by a local 
wag, he mistook for an inn the private house of a Mr. Feather- 
atone, who, discovering the whimsical mistake, fooled the young 
fellow to the top of his bent, and did not undeceive him till the 
next morning. 

2. 34. Knowle, or Knole, Park is the seat of some Lord or 
other, near Sevenoaks in Kent. The portrait of Goldsmith is 
by Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was exhibited by him in the 
Royal Academy Exhibition of 1770. I believe it can be still 
seen at Knole by those who care to add 2s. 6d. to the already 
considerable wealth of the noble proprietor. 

3- 9. repartees and couplets. Macaulay evidently alludes to 
a rather silly improvised couplet about ^-Esop and his monkey 
which is quoted by the biographers. 

3. 14. seventeenth year. Forster gives 'the llth of June, 
1745 ' ; but later researches, by Dr. Waller, are said to prove 
that Goldsmith was admitted at the age of fifteen, i.e. in his 


sixteenth year, on June llth, 1744. But June, 1744, to Feb., 
1749, when Goldsmith took his B.A. degree, gives the rather 
long period of 4i years. In the edition of Washington Irving's 
Oliver Goldsmith published by Bell & Sons (1900) the date is 
given as 1747 an evident error. 

3 15. sizar : lit. one who receives ' sizes,' i.e. fixed allowances 
of food ; rations. The term was used also at Cambridge. At 
Oxford the word was ' servitor. ' 

3. 17. menial services. ' He was obliged to sweep part of the 
courts ; to carry up the dishes from the kitchen to the fellows' 
table, and to wait in hall '( W. I. ). He was distinguished from 
the ordinary commoner by a coarser kind of cap and gown, while 
the ' fellow-commoner ' wore gold braid and gold tassel. Irving 
relates how, at the beginning of last century, a T.C. sizar, chaffed 
by the crowd while he was carrying up the food to high-table, 
hurled the dish and its contents at the head of the sneerers an 
act which brought about the abolition of these menial offices. 
Oliver had to enter as a sizar on account of the expenses caused by 
Catharine's clandestine marriage. See on 2. 1. How keenly he 
felt his position may be seen from the letter to his brother Henry 
(1759), in which he says : ' If he (your son) has ambition, strong 
passions, and an exquisite sensibility of contempt, do not send him 
there (to College), unless you have no trade for him except your 

3- 22. name scrawled. Goldsmith's room in T.C. D. no longer 
exists, the range of buildings having been reconstructed. 
Whether the window-pane or window-frame (as W. I. describes 
it) still exists, I cannot say. 

3. 27. neglected the studies. Macaulay might have expressed 
a little more sympathy here, seeing that he himself was plucked 
for the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge, and was thus pre 
vented from competing for the highest classical honour the 
Chancellor's Medal. Goldsmith's failure was due to a similar 
reason. He detested mathematics. 'Mathematics,' he wrote 
later in his Inquiry (ch. 13), ' are perhaps too much studied at 
our Universities. This seems a science to which the meanest 
intellects are equal ' ; and to Malone (B. 139) he said that he 
' made no great figure in mathematics, which was a study much 
in repute there.' The fact is that his tutor, the Rev. Theaker 
Wilder, was what Forster well calls a ' savage brute ' notorious 
for bullying pugilistic habits. This tutor endeavoured to force 
his one branch of learning, mathematics, on the young poet. 
' He abused him in the presence of the class as ignorant and 
stupid ; ridiculed him as awkward and ugly ; and at times, in 
the transports of his temper, indulged in personal violence' 
(W. I.). In the Chinese Letters (Citizen of the World) the Man 

NOTES. 25 

in Black (who is Goldsmith in a thin disguise) says that his 
father was mortified at his ill-success at College. ' His disappoint 
ment,' he adds, ' might have been partly ascribed to his having 
overrated my talents, and partly to my dislike of mathematical 
reasonings at a time when my imagination and memory, yet un 
satisfied, were more eager after new objects than desirous of 
reasoning upon those I knew. This, however, did not please my 
tutors ... 

3- 30. pumping on a constable. One of the undergraduates 
had been seized by the bailiff. ' The stronghold of the bailiff 
was carried by storm, the scholar set at liberty, and the de 
linquent catch-pole borne off captive to the College, where, 
having no pump to put him under, they satisfied the demands of 
collegiate law by ducking him in an old cistern' (W. I.). The 
affair proved serious in the end. The gownsmen were joined by 
a mob from the streets, and attacked the prison. Shots were 
fired by the jailers, and two townsmen were killed. Five 
students, who had been ringleaders, were expelled ; others were 
publicly reprimanded ' quod seditioni favissent et tumultuantibus 
opem tulissent,' as it is recorded in the College annals ; and 
among the names of these stands that of Oliver Goldsmith. 

3-31. giving a ball This was to celebrate his having gained, 
as- 17th out of 19 successful candidates, an 'exhibition better 
described as a College prize. The supper and dance " must have 
cost him a good deal more than the worth of his prize, viz. 
30s. But such mathematical reasonings never appealed to him. 
In the midst of the festivities the door burst open, and the Rev. 
Theaker Wilder appeared. He made a rush at the master of the 
feast and belaboured him, and then sent the lads and lassies 
a-packing with terrible threats and abuse. The next day Gold 
smith sold his books, ran away from College, sneaked about 
Dublin till his funds were reduced to a shilling, and then set out 
for Cork, intending perhaps to get across to America as a stow 
away. For three days he lived on his shilling and on the 
produce of as much of his clothing as he could in decency dis 
pense with. Then his indignation began to cool and his courage 
to sink. He turned his steps homeward towards Lissoy. His 
brother Henry heard of the penitent prodigal, and while he was 
still far off went to meet him, reclothed him, took him back to 
T.C.D., and effected 'something of a reconciliation' (says his 
sister, Mrs. Hodson) with the 'savage brute ' of a tutor. In pass 
ing, be it noted that this reverend gentleman ultimately met his 
death 'in the course of a dissolute brawl.' 

3- 34. his father died. This was early in the year 1747, and 
before the College riots and the Cork episode. Between his 
father's death and his B.A. degree (Feb. 27, 1749) was a period 
of just about two years a fact not plain from Macaulay's words. 


See on 3. 14. The scanty and precarious supplies from home 
were now at an end, and he would have had to leave College but 
for the generosity of Uncle Contarine and other friends. His 
private purse had to depend on occasional loans from good- 
natured fellow students (an old schoolmate, Beatty, and a 
cousin, Bob Bryanton), and when these sources failed he would 
pawn his books or scribble street-ballads, which he sometimes 
was lucky enough to sell for five shillings each at the ' Reindeer 
repository in Mountrath Court.' It is said that he used to steal 
out of College at night to hear his ballads sung in the streets a 
fact, if a fact, which seems to have deeply affected the imagina 
tion of Mr. Forster. He gives us a rather high-flown half-page, 
beginning thus : ' Happy night, to him worth all the dreary 
days ! ' etc. This experience probably accounts for the parti 
cular interest that Goldsmith took in street-singers. On one 
occasion he hurriedly left a convivial dinner-table and ran out 
into the street to give money to a poor woman whose voice had 
touched him. 

3- 34. Squalid dissipation seems to be too strong an expression. 
See on 14. 22. ' Natural indolence and a love of convivial 
pleasures ' is Washington Irving's probably juster expression ; 
iior does there seem any reason to doubt that Goldsmith made a 
fairly full confession when he said : ' I was a lover of mirth, 

SK>a-humour, and even sometimes of fun, from my childhood.' 
e believed in a little natural fermentation, as he called it, to 
clarify the wine. Still, he evidently went a good deal too far at 
times as in his Dublin gaming-house escapade. See on 4. 21. 

4. 1. humble dwelling : a cottage just outside Ballymahon on 
the road to Edgeworthstown. See on 2. 1. 

4. 2. in nis twenty-first year, i.e. in Feb., 1749, when he left 
College. But two years were spent partly with his mother at 
Ballymahon, and partly with the Hodsons at Lissoy, or with 
Henry at Pallas, before he actually applied for ordination. 
During this period while, on the advice of Uncle Contarine, he 
was (nominally) reading for orders he occupied some of his 
time in helping Henry with the village school. Many an even 
ing he spent with his cousin Bob Bryanton and other such local 
Tony Lumpkins at an alehouse (' George Con way's Inn ' : proto 
type of the ' Three Jolly Pigeons ' in She Stoops to Conquer) ; or 
he would go off for the whole day, wandering with fishing-rod 
and flute along the banks of the Inny ; or would associate with 
the priest, who taught him to talk a little French ; or would 
join in village sports on one of which occasions he won the 
prize for throwing the sledge-hammer. In the Deserted Village 
are to be found many reminiscences of this time perhaps, in 
retrospect at least, the happiest period of Goldsmith's life. 

NOTES. 27 

4. 10. scarlet clothes. Goldsmith's love for what he himself 
in the Deserted Village calls the ' glaring impotence of dress ' is 
noticed by Boswell (B. 201), who describes him strutting about 
and vaunting his ' bloom-coloured coat. ' Goldsmith's tailors' 
bills, which have been discovered, contain many such extra 
vagant items among them ' bloom -coloured breeches.' In his 
Life of Beau Nash he says that by fine dress we are ' awed into 
respect and esteem.' Whether the story of the scarlet breeches 
is true (as was asserted by Dr. Stream, Henry's successor in the 
curacy of Kilkenny West), or whether Goldsmith's usual failure 
to satisfy examiners was the cause of rejection, or some exagger 
ated report of college irregularities given by Theaker Wilder, 
one cannot say for certain. Goldsmith had the strongest repug 
nance to the prospect of a clerical life. The real reason was 
doubtless in the main the same that made Milton, at a similar 
crisis, write : ' Perceiving that he who took orders must sub 
scribe slave...! thought it better to prefer a blameless silence 
before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with 
servitude and forswearing.' But serious as his reasons probably 
were, it was not Goldsmith's habit to pose as serious-minded. 
He had the amiable, though in some respects unfortunate, habit 
of putting himself in a laughable position an irresistible ten 
dency to tell ludicrous stories against himself, many of them 
being half or pure inventions, but retold so often that he himself 
finally believed them. On this occasion he seems to have given 
some of his duller friends the impression that his repugnance 
and his rejection were both due to unorthodox views on clerical 
dress. Some ten years later he put this whimsical objection 
into the mouth of the ' Man in Black,' who says to his Chinese 
friend : ' In orderto settle in life, my friends advised (for they 
always advise when they begin to despise us), they advised me, 
I say, to go into orders. To be obliged to wear a long wig, 
when I liked a short one, or a black coat, when I generally 
dressed in brown, I thought was such a restraint upon my 
liberty that I absolutely rejected the proposal... I rejected a life 
of luxury, indolence, and ease, from no other consideration but 
that boyish one of dress. So that my friends were now perfectly 
satisfied I was undone.' 

4- 11. tutor : in the family of a Mr. Flinn, a rich neighbour. 
' He charged a member of the family with unfair play at cards. 
A violent altercation ensued, which ended in his throwing up his 
situation' (W. I.). 

4. 14. with much satisfaction. According to Washington 
Irving he started for Cork ' without communicating his plans or 
intentions to his friends.' On leaving Mr. Flinn's he seems to 
have been in possession of 30 possibly partly won at cards 
and was the 'undisputed owner of a good plump horse' (F.). 


On his return, after six weeks, he had not a penny in his pocket, 
and the good plump horse had been exchanged for a poor lean 
beast to which he had given the name ' Fiddle-back.' His 
mother was very angry for a time. He mollified her ire by 
writing a long and humorous account of his adventures (given by 
W. I., p. 21-24), which is probably to a great extent purely 
imaginative as was in all probability much that he afterwards 
related about his Continental wanderings. 

4. 20. a generous kinsman : Uncle Contarine. After losing 
50 in a gaming-house, he sneaked about Dublin for some time, 
afraid to communicate with home. At last he wrote to his 
uncle. This generous and long-suffering man seems to have been 
the only one who readily forgave him. His mother, who was 
with reason intensely mortified, refused to receive him. He 
therefore went to Pallas, but after a short time even the good- 
natured Henry quarrelled with him ; whereupon he took refuge 
with his uncle, and idled away his time in scribbling verses and 
accompanying Jane's harpsichord performances with the rather 
artless music of his flute. 

4. 23. He then thought... Apparently he did not trouble 
himself with any such thoughts. The suggestion seems to have 
been first made by Dean Goldsmith of Cloyne ' a sort of cold 
grandee of the family' who had somehow got the idea that 
young Oliver was, in spite of all his escapades, no fool. But the 
Dean gave nothing but his blessing. 'The small purse,' says 
Forster, ' was contributed by Mr. Contarine ' whose generosity 
and faith knew no limits. On his arrival in Edinburgh (autu'mn 
of 1752), after leaving his possessions at a lodging and having 
sallied forth in the evening to see the city, hefound (it is said) 
that he had quite forgotten to ascertain the name of the landlady 
or of the street, and would have had to wander about all night 
if he had not met the porter who had carried his box. This is 
perhaps one of the innumerable stories that he told of himself, 
and may be partly true or wholly imaginative. 

4. 28. to Leyden. Here again we are in the region of myths. 
He had expressed a wish to ' hear Albinus, the great professor 
at Leyden,' and it is intelligible that Uncle Contarine furnished 
the means (33, apparently) for this, and for a preliminary visit 
to Paris. But when it came to the point, instead of shipping for 
Holland or Calais, he secured his passage (according to his own 
account) in a ship bound for Bordeaux. The ship had to put in 
at Newcastle. While he and seven others were enjoying them 
selves in an ale-house, ' enters a Serjeant and twelve grenadiers, 
with their bayonets screwed, and puts us all under the king's 
arreat. It seems my company were Scotchmen in the French 
service, and had been in Scotland to enlist soldiers for the 
French army. I endeavoured all I could to prove my innocence ; 

NOTES. 29 

however, I remained in prison with the rest a fortnight, and 
with difficulty got off even then.' If this be true, his arrest 
was a bit of luck ; for the ship was wrecked off the Garonne and 
all the crew perished. From Newcastle he took ship to Rotter 
dam, and thence went straight to Leyden. Here he remained 
about a year and was often reduced to great straits. He 
borrowed from a generous fellow-student, Ellis by name, and 
made things worse by trying to retrieve his fortunes at gaming 

4. 32. with no property but ... ' Bent upon leaving the city 
where he had now been nearly a year without an effort for a 
degree, he called upon Ellis and asked his assistance. It was 
given, but as his evil, or some might say his good genius 
would have it, he passed a florist's garden on his return, and 
seeing some rare and high-priced flowers (tulip-roots) which his 
Uncle Contarine, an enthusiast in such things, had long been in 
search of he ran in and bought a parcel of the roots, and sent 
them off to Ireland. Next day he left Leyden, with a guinea in 
his pocket, one shirt to his back, and a flute in his hand ' (F.). 

4. 33. He rambled . . . There are vague evidences of his having 
visited Brussels and Antwerp, and of having made some stay at 
Louvain. Some indeed assert that he obtained there the degree 
of- bachelor of medicine. 

4. 34. playing tunes. How much we should believe of Gold 
smith's traveller's tales is not easy to determine. His letters 
from abroad have perished. Macaulay's statement is founded 
mainly on two well-known passages in Goldsmith's confessedly 
imaginative writings, namely, the lines in the Traveller 

' How often have I led thy sportive choir 

With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire,' 
and the description that the ' Philosophic Vagabond ' (George, 
the Vicar's eldest son) gives of his imaginary foreign experiences. 
' I had,' he says, ' some knowledge of music, with a tolerable 
voice, and now turned what was once my amusement into a 
present means of bare subsistence ... Whenever I approached a 
peasant's house towards nightfall, I played one of my most 
merry tunes, and that procured me not only a lodging, but sub 
sistence for the next day. I once or twice attempted to play for 
people of fashion, but they always thought my performance 
odious,' etc. (Vicar of Wakejield, chap. xx.). 

4. 36. as far as Italy. ' The lecture rooms of Germany are 
so often referred to in his prose writings, that he must have 
taken them on his way to Switzerland' (F.). From Switzerland 
he sent Henry a rough sketch of what afterwards was worked up 
into The Traveller. It was at Geneva, if anywhere, that he 


must have seen Voltaire, who had lately settled there in his 
newly-purchased house Lea Devices. Forster thinks (surely rightly ) 
that Goldsmith crossed by one of the Alpine passes into Pied 
mont. Washington Irving, following 'early memoir- writers ' 
(Dr. Percy and others), speaks of his picking up a vulgar, rich 
pupil at Geneva, son of a London pawnbroker, from whom he 
separated at Marseilles. This seems only a variation on the 
probably fictitious account of the Philosophic Vagabond, who 
relates how he became tutor at Paris to the heir of a West 
Indian an avaricious young cub from whom he parted at 

5. 1. not to the taste of the Italians. 'My skill in music 
could avail me nothing in a country where every peasant was a 
better musician than I ; but by this time I had acquired another 
talent, which answered my purpose as well, and this was a skill 
in disputation. In all the foreign universities and convents 
there are, upon certain days, philosophical theses maintained 
against every adventitious disputant ; for which, if the champion 
opposes with any dexterity, he can claim a gratuity in money, a 
dinner, and a bed for one night. In this manner, therefore, I 
fought my way towards England ..." { Vicar of Wakefield, 
ch. xx.). This is a more heroical kind of picture than Mac- 
aulay's ; but it seems to have been accepted by Goldsmith's 
friends. Thus Boswell says : ' He afterwards studied physic at 
Edinburgh and upon the Continent ; and, I have been informed, 
was enabled to pursue his travels on foot partly by demanding at 
Universities to enter the lists as disputant, by which, according 
to the custom of many of them, he was entitled to the premium 
of a crown when, luckily for him, his challenge was not accepted ; 
so that, as I once observed to Dr. Johnson, he disputed his 
passage through Europe ' (8. 139). 

5-9. as to assert... 'The person who writes this Memoir, 
who had the honour and pleasure of being of his acquaintance, 
remembers to have seen him in a select company of wits of both 
sexes at Paris ... '(Goldsmith's Memoirs of Voltaire). He also 
asserts that Fontenelle and Diderot were present. This is 
supposed to have been in 1755. Now it seems certain that 
Voltaire was not at Paris between 1750, when his wrath and in 
dignation drove him thence to Berlin, and the last year of his life, 
1778, when he returned to triumph and die. At this time he was 
newly installed in Lea Delicts, at Geneva, whence he afterwards 
removed to Ferney, where Boswell visited him, as he asserts, in 
1764. [Goldsmith's Memoirs only go down to about 1744, when 
Voltaire was for the first time in Berlin with Frederick the 
Great. Had he finished them he would have had to account 
somehow for his assertion.] Forster says that Goldsmith 
evidently met Voltaire at Geneva, not Paris, and that 'the 

NOTES. 31 

error does not vitiate the statement in an integral point. ' It is, 
I think, very much to be doubted whether this was not one of 
those fictitious statements which Goldsmith repeated until he 
believed them himself. If the meeting did take place at Geneva, 
how did Diderot and Fontenelle (at that time nigh 100 years old) 
manage to be present ? 

5. 16. without a friend. While at Padua, probably, he had 
heard of the death of his Uncle Contarine, and it was doubtless 
this that brought him home. His letters to his mother and 
brother and other relatives seem to have had no response. 

5. 18. a doctor's degree. ' At Padua he is supposed to have 
stayed some six months ; and here, it is asserted though in 
this case also (as also at Louvain) the official records are lost he 
received his degree' (F.). A degree was of very easy acquisition 
in these foreign Universities, but it would have cost money 
which he did not possess. And how he could have stayed six 
months at Padua, it is not easy to see. He started from Edin 
burgh in February, 1754 ; was a fortnight at Newcastle, and 
could not have reached Leyden till about the end of March. At 
Leyden, according to Forster, he was about a year ; and his 
rambles on foot through the Netherlands and to Paris, with a 
stay at Louvain long enough for a degree, must have taken at 
least two months. This brings us to about May, 1755. Then, 
according to the Traveller, he wandered along the Loire, and 
then found his way (all on foot) to Germany (see on 4. 36), 
perhaps up the Rhine, past Mainz and Heidelberg and Strasburg, 
to Basel and Geneva. This must have taken at least six months. 
From Geneva to Padua by foot, with visits to various Uni 
versities and towns, would take at least another two months. 
So, if he was only a week or two at Paris, we are already 
brought to the end of 1755 as the date of his arrival at Padua. 
Now he landed again in Dover on Feb. 1st, 1756. This 
gives just one month for the return journey say at least 
900 miles on foot, or 30 miles a day with no stay at all at 

5- 19. ' His flute and his philosophy were no longer of any 
avail ; the English boors cared nothing for music ; there were no 
convents ; and as to the learned and clergy, not one of them 
would give a vagrant scholar a supper and night's lodging for 
the best thesis that ever was argued' (W. L). 

5- 22. strolling player. ' He even resorted, it is said, to the 
stage as a temporary expedient, and figured in low comedy at a 
country town in Kent' (W. I.). Forster suspects it may have 
been ' in a country barn. ' The only foundation for this story 
seems to be the fact that the Philosophic Vagabond ( Vicar of 
Wakefield, ch xx.), on his arrival in England, joins a ' company 


of comedians ' something like Wilhelm Meister and that Gold 
smith once wrote an essay on the ' Adventures of a Strolling 
Player ' (Globe edition, p. 302). 

5. 24. pounded drugs. 'At one of the towns he passed he 
implored to be hired in an apothecary's shop' (F.) ; ' but all his 
medical science gathered in foreign universities could not gain 
him the management of a pestle and mortar' (W. I.). After 
reaching London he ' went among the London apothecaries and 
asked them to let him spread plasters for them, pound in their 
mortars, run with their medicines. But they asked him for a 
character, and he had none to give' (F. ). 

5. 26. Axe Yard. ' Many years afterwards he startled a 
polite circle at Sir Joshua Reynold's by humorously dating an 
anecdote about the time he lived among the beggars of Axe Lane' 
(W.I. ). Forster says it was at 'a brilliant circle at Bennet 
Langtou's.' The Axe Lane experience probably preceded a post 
as assistant to Mr. Apothecary Jacob, Fish Street Hill, Monu 
ment Yard, on the strength of which, for a time, he had an 
' elegant little lodging at 3s. a week, with its lukewarm dinner 
served up between two pewter plates from a cook-shop.' After 
this, according to an early biographer, he ' rose from an apothe 
cary's drudge to be a physician in a humble way,' and we have 
glimpses of him, with cane and wig, ' in a suit of green and 
gold, miserably old and tarnished,' or in a second-hand, once 
black, velvet coat, a great rusty patch in which he covers 
assiduously with his hat, as he feels the pulse of some poverty- 
stricken patient. (For a subsequent attempt at doctoring, see 
on 8. 20. ) But the fees were probably like those of Johnson's 
protege, Dr. Levett, who often got paid with a bit of bread or 
a glass of gin ; so it is not surprising to find him soon afterwards 
working perhaps in intervals of medical practice as corrector 
of proofs to a printer and author who was no one less 
than Samuel Richardson, author of Clarissa. In Richardson's 
parlour he seems to have met Dr. Young, the author of the 
celebrated poem Night Thoughts. 

5. 26. usher of a school. Goldsmith had unearthed several 
old Edinburgh fellow-students in London : a Dr. Sleigh, who 
helped him liberally, ' sharing his purse and friendship with 
me ; a Dr. Farr, who gives us a description of Goldsmith in his 
' rusty full-trimmed black suit' and tells us of a tragedy that the 
poet had in hand and of some ' strange Quixotic scheme which 
he had in contemplation of going to decipher the inscriptions on 
written mountain* ' in Eastern lands ; and, thirdly, a young man 
named Milner, whose father, a Presbyterian minister, kept a 
school at Peckham, in Surrey. This Dr. Milner offered Gold 
smith employment as assistant. ' The good people of Peckham,' 
says Forster, ' have cherished traditions of Goldsmith House, as 

NOTES. 33 

the school was afterwards fondly designated, which may not 
be safely admitted here. Broken window-panes have been 
religiously kept, for the supposed treasure of his handwriting, 
and old gentlemen, formerly Doctor Milner's scholars, have 
claimed, against every reasonable evidence, the honour of having 
been whipped by the author of the Vicar of Wakefidd.' The 
only fairly trustworthy information that we possess about Gold 
smith as usher at Peckham was obtained from Miss Hester, the 
Doctor's youngest daughter, who survived till about the end of the 
century. Most of her anecdotes show Goldsmith in a favourable 
light, as very good-natured and fond of practical jokes. But he 
doubtless felt the miseries and humiliations of an usher's position, 
of which he (as Philosophic Vagabond) has given an humorous 
description in the Vicar of Wakefidd (ch. xx.), the general 
summing-up being : ' I had rather be an under-turnkey in 
Newgate.' Dr. Johnson's experiences and sentiments were 
somewhat similar in regard to the ' complicated misery ' of an 
usher's life, on which he looked back 'with the strongest 
aversion and even a degree of horror' (B. 23). 

5. 29. bookseller's hack. He acted as usher for only two or 
three months on this occasion. In April of the same year (1757) 
the proprietor of the Whig Monthly Revieio, for which Dr. 
Milner wrote occasionally, dined at Peckham, and was so struck 
with Goldsmith's literary knowledge that he engaged him as 
contributor at a small fixed salary with board and lodging. 
Goldsmith therefore took up his abode with this Mr. Griffiths, 
'at the sign of the Dunciad, Paternoster Row.' But after five 
mouths he found Griffiths, and still more Griffiths' wife, insuffer 
able and left them, or, as the Griffiths asserted, was ejected for 
incorrigible idleness and an independence verging on impudence. 
[Smollett, who was editor of the Tory Critical Revieio, used to 
sneer at the rival Monthly as concocted by ' illiterate booksellers 
and old women.'] After these five months of contribution to the 
Whig Review of Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths he seems to have lived 
for a time in a slum near Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, and to 
have endeavoured to supplement literary hack-work with 
medical practice. The doctoring seems to have proved a dead 
failure ; the writing was a little more successful. His essays in 
the Monthly had brought him some repute, and he obtained 
casual jobs from various publishers among whom was that Mr. 
John Newbery, who later proved so good a friend to him (see on 
6. 17). During this period towards the end of 1758 he was 
visited by his brother Charles, who had been sent to him from 
Lissoy or Bally mahon in the hope that he, Oliver as rising 
author might give him a helping hand upward ! Charles seems 
to have been much disconcerted at the sight of Oliver's slum- 
lodging having evidently expected something very different ; 



and as Oliver proved a broken reed, the young fellow suddenly 
and secretly, it is said, left him and took ship for Jamaica. 
(Thirty-four years later he was again in England, and was inter 
viewed by Malone, who found him grown very like what Oliver 
had been. He returned to Jamaica and died there in 1804. See 
on 2. 1). 

At last some day early in 1758 hunger and despair pre 
vailed, and Goldsmith resolved to return to usher-drudgery. 
He 'made his melancholy journey to Peckham and knocked 
at Dr. Milner's door.' Luckily, or unluckily, Dr. Milner 
was ill and in want of assistance ; so Goldsmith was set 
in charge of the school, and had to do not only most of the 
teaching but all the flogging. Milner, who seems to have had a 
kindly nature, saw how he suffered, and proposed to make 
application to an East India director of his acquaintance for a 
medical appointment in India a proposal rapturously welcomed 
by Goldsmith as perhaps leading to an escape from usherdom 
and Grub Street. The application was successful. An appoint 
ment to the post of ' medical officer to one of the factories on the 
coast of Coromandel ' was received. He left Peckham, and took 
a garret in town (see 6. 6). He wrote letters to his prosperous 
brother-in-law, Hodson, and to others, in the hope of help 
towards the expenses of outfit and voyage ; and with the same 
object he made great efforts to publish his Inquiry (see 6. 18). 
But ' on a certain night in the beginning of November, 1785, his 
ascent of Break-neck Steps must have had unwonted gloom. 
He had learnt the failure of his new hope : the Coromandel 
appointment was his no longer' (F. ). No explanation, says 
Forster, could be obtained from Dr. Milner who was now in a 
dying state and Goldsmith ' always afterwards withheld 
allusion to it.' Either his unprepossessing presence, or his 
medical incompetence, or his inability to pay for his outfit and 
voyage, seems to have been made a ' convenient excuse for trans 
ferring the favour to another.' 

6. 1. Surgeons' Hall. This seems to have been done in the 
first ecstasy of his disappointment. The worst part of the 
business was not that he was plucked ('Oliver Goldsmith not 
qualified ' being the entry discovered in the books of the College 
of Surgeons), but that having procured security for a new suit of 
clothes for the examination by promising his old employer 
Griffiths four articles for the Monthly, he not only pawned the 
books lent him by Griffiths for this purpose, but pawned also 
(possibly in order to rescue his landlord from bailiffs) the clothes, 
for which he had not paid. 

6. 4. third part of a bed. One of the requisites of an usher, 
according to the Philosophic Vagabond's cousin ( Vicar of Wake- 
Jield, ch. xx.), is to 'lie three in a bed.' In another passage 

NOTES. 35 

Goldsmith speaks of the miseries that an usher has to endure 
from a 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 upon 
the bolster. ' 

6- 6. a garret. This he seems to have taken on leaving 
Peckham for the second time, probably in the summer of 1758, 
while still hoping to go out to India. The garret was a ' miserably 
dirty-looking room ' (says Bishop Percy, who visited him there, 
and was accommodated with his only chair) in a filthy house, 
No. 12 Green Arbour Court, between Old Bailey and Fleet 
Market. The Court was reached from Farringdon Street by a 
steep Sight of slimy and dilapidated stone stairs, called Break 
neck Steps. About 1830 the house was pulled down. Before 
this happened, it was visited by Washington Irving, who, in his 
Tales of a Traveller, gives a graphic description (repeated in his 
Life of Goldsmith) of this ghastly London slum. No wonder 
Goldsmith's brother Charles was disconcerted ! 

6. 12. six years : i.e. 1758 to 1764, when the 'great crisis' of 
his life was reached by the publication of the Traveller (8. 15). 

6- 17. far-famed shop : the bookshop of John Newbery, who 
had been attracted by Goldsmith's writings, especially by a 
short-lived little weekly paper called the Bee, which Goldsmith 
had been employed to edit. In company with Smollett, the 
celebrated novelist, and editor of the Tory Critical Review, New 
bery called on Goldsmith towards the end of 1759, and enraged 
him to write for the Literary Magazine. From this time New 
bery was Goldsmith's chief publisher and one of his best friends. 
At this time (1759) Newbery was publishing Johnson's Idler in his 
'Universal Chronicle,' and lending him considerable sums of 
money. He published Goldsmith's Traveller (1764), and his 
nephew, Francis Newbery, of Paternoster Row, who took over 
his uncle's business about 1765. published the Vicar of Wakefield, 
She Stoops to Conquer, etc. The Newberys made a speciality of 
children's books. In his Essay on Milton Macaulay speaks of 
' those pasteboard pictures invented by the friend of children, Mr. 
Newbery ' ; and in the Vicar of Wakefifld Goldsmith introduces 
his old publisher (who died in 1767) as ' the philanthropic book 
seller in St. Paul's Churchyard, who has written so many little 
books for children,' and describes him as 'a good-natured man 
with a red pimpled face.' Besides selling books, the Newberys 
were the special vendors of ' James' powder ' for which see on 
16. 17. A monograph on Newbery, under the title, 'A book 
seller of the Last Century,' has been written (1885) by Mr. 

6- 18. An Inquiry... See on 5. 29. It was published by 
Dodsley in March, 1759. It is 'neither more nor less than an 


endeavour to prove that criticism has in all ages been the deadly 
enemy of art and literature, coupled with an appeal to authors 
to draw their inspiration from nature rather than from books, 
and varied here and there by a gentle sigh over the loss of 
patronage ' (Black, p. 33). His division of the history of art and 
literature into three periods the creative (poetic), the contem 
plative (philosophic), and the age of critics and commentators 
is very well done. It is probably what suggested Macaulay's 
well-known remarks in his Essay on Milton, although he here 
repays his debt with disparagement. The description of the 
' present state of learning in England ' is, moreover, full of very 
just stricture, much of which is quite as applicable to our own 
days. His age he rightly stigmatises as an age in the main 
barren of all originality and poetry an age of criticism and 
commentary and metaphysical subtlety. ' It seems the spirit of 
the times for men here to exhaust their natural sagacity in ex 
ploring the intricacies of another man's thought, and thus never 
to have leisure to think for themselves.' Could anything be 
more truly said about our present age ? It sums up a great deal 
of what Matthew Arnold and others have told us. Such well- 
aimed sentences and they are not few make Goldsmith's 
Inquiry very well worth perpetuating. As I close the book, 
another catches my eye : ' The ingenious Mr. Hogarth ' the 
celebrated painter, who was at one time intimate with Gold 
smith ' used to assert that every one except the connoisseur was 
a judge of painting.' 

6. 20. Life of Beau Nash, which is not ... It has been included 
by Prof. Masson in the Globe edition of Goldsmith's works. 
Prof. Masson differs widely from Macaulay in holding the Inquiry 
as 'pure and real Goldsmith,' and the Biclutrd Nash as a 'poor 
compilation.' This it certainly is not. It gives a very graphic 
picture of fashionable life at Bath under the really remarkable 
and on the whole salutary reign of Beau Nash the ' King of 
Bath,' as the Master of the Ceremonies was called. Though he 
unfortunately got enticed into collusion with unprincipled pro 
prietors of gaming-tables, he set a fine example by his high sense 
of honour, his liberality, and his sympathy with distress of 
which a proof is the Bath Hospital, founded mainly by his 

6. 22. History of England. This was published anonymously 
in 1764. 'It had a great success, and passed through many 
editions ... The nobleman was supposed to be Lord Chesterfield, 
so refined was the style' (F.). Lord Orrery also got the credit 
for' it, and so did Lord Lyttelton. Indeed, it was in Forster's 
day to be seen on bookstalls with ' the name of that grave good 
lord (Lyttleton) affixed to it.' Lord Chesterfield's celebrated 
Letters to his Son were not published till after his death in 1773. 

NOTES. 37 

In 1771 Goldsmith published another English History. See 
on 11. 34. 

6. 25. Chinese traveller. These Chinese Letters, of which The 
Citizen of the World consists, were contributed (in 1760) to the 
Public Ledger, a little daily paper newly started by Newbery. 
They were republished in book form in 1762. The Chinaman in 
London, writing to his friend in China, describes the foibles and 
follies of English life with a charming naivete, and with that 
kind of ' comic irony ' which is only possible from the standpoint 
of a different civilisation. The ' Man in Black,' with whom Lien 
Chi makes acquaintance and who acts as his cicerone, is Gold 
smith in a thin disguise, and the satire of the whole thing is of 
course Goldsmith's satire, and not such as an oriental would 
express. [Mr. Black inveighs against the reader who 'thinks 
himself very clever, and, recognising a bit of a story as having 
happened to Goldsmith, jumps to the conclusion that such and 
such a passage is necessarily autobiographical.' Naturally we 
must make full allowance for Goldsmith's strong imagination, 
and not attempt to pin him down to either facts or opinions. ] 
In passing, notice that Goldsmith's mind ran a great deal on the 
East and on lost records (such as the inscriptions on written 
mountains, already mentioned) and on lost oriental arts. He 
constantly talked about expeditions that he hoped to make some 
day to India, Persia, and the interior of Asia and even com 
posed a memorial to Lord Bute, the prime minister, proposing 
such expeditions in order to discover these lost arts. ' Of all 
men,' said Johnson, ' Goldsmith is the most unfit to go out upon 
such an inquiry, for he is utterly ignorant of such arts as we 
already possess . . . Sir, he would bring home a grinding barrow, 
such as you see in every street in London, and think that he had 
furnished a wonderful improvement.' 

7. 1. very scantily stored. 'It is amazing,' once exclaimed 
Johnson, ' how little Goldsmith knows. He seldom comes where 
he is not more ignorant than anyone else' (B. 259). Still, he 
called him a ' very great man,' and said ' whatever he wrote, he 
did it better than any other man could do,' although he ' had 
been at no pains to fill his mind with knowledge ' (B. 452). But 
Goldsmith was full of information though not of the kind 
valued by Johnson or Macaulay and his essays, as well as his 
novel and his plays, show a very acute observation of human 
nature, not merely in its grotesque aspects. 

7- 16. introduced to Johnson. This was perhaps on May 31st, 
1761, when Dr. Percy (afterwards the Bishop Percy of the 
Reliques), who had already (see on 6. 6) visited him in his Green 
Arbour slum, brought Johnson to take supper with Goldsmith 
at his rather ' more civilised ' rooms in Wine Office Court, 
Temple. It is possible, however, that Johnson and Goldsmith 


may have met before. On this occasion Dr. Percy, as he himself 
relates, expressed astonishment at Johnson's unusually spruce 
appearance. ' Why, Sir,' said Johnson, ' I hear that Goldsmith, 
who is a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of cleanliness 
and decency by quoting my practice, and I am desirous this 
night to show him a better example.' Johnson had already 
established his literary reputation by his Dictionary (1755). 

7. 18. Reynolds was introduced to Goldsmith in Johnson's 
chambers soon after the visit just described ; and doubtless the 
two met afterwards pretty often at the bookshop or back 
parlour of Davies, in Russell Street, where Johnson and his 
friends foregathered, and where, just about a year later (May 16, 
1762) Boswell had his first meeting with Johnson. In 1768 
Reynolds was elected first president of the Royal Academy 
(when Johnson and Goldsmith were elected professors) and in 
April, 1769, he was knighted. In 1770 he exhibited at the 
Academy his portrait of Goldsmith. He plays a considerable 
rfile in Boswell's Life of Johnson. 

7- 18. Burke came to London from Dublin in 1750. He 
' became secretary to Lord Rockingham (when Prime Minister) 
and in 1765 entered Parliament under his patronage' (Green). 
It was by Burke's eloquence that, in 1766, the obnoxious Stamp 
Act was repealed. See also Macaulay's Essay (popular edition, 
p. 776) on Chatham, where he is described as ' regarded by the 
men of letters who supped together at the Turk's Head as the 
only match in conversation for Dr. Johnson. ' He had already 
made a name (1756) as the author of the celebrated Essay on the 
Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Johnson 
himself often spoke of him with admiration, as ' a great man by 
nature,' ' le grand Burke,' ' an extraordinary man,' ' the first 
man everywhere,' etc. 'I love his knowledge,' he said, 'his 
genius, his diffusion and affluence of conversation'... 'That 
fellow calls forth all my powers.' 

7. 22. Inl763. According to Boswell(B. 164) it was inFebruary, 
1764. ' Soon after his (Johnson's) return to London, which was 
in February, was founded that Club which existed long without 
a name, but at Mr. Garrick's funeral (1779) became distinguished 
by the title of The Literary Club. Sir Joshua Reynolds had 
the merit of being the first proposer of it : to which Johnson 
acceded, and the original members were : Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
Dr. Johnson, Mr. Edmund Burke, Dr. Nugent, Mr. Beauclerk, 
Mr. Langton, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr. Chamier, and Sir John 
Hawkins. They met at the Turk's Head, in Gerrard Street, 
Soho, one evening in every week, at seven, and generally 
continued their conversation till a pretty late hour.' By the 
time Boswell published his Life of Johnson (1791) the Club had 
increased to the number of thirty-five. For Boewell's election, 

NOTES. 39 

see B. 261. Further details are given in my notes to Macaulay's 
Life of Johnson. Macaulay himself was a member. 

7. 28. Inns of Court. His various lodgings were as follows : 
1758-end of 1760. Green Arbour Court (Break-neck Steps). 
1760-62. Wine Office Court, Temple. 
1762-4. Islington (in order to be near Newbery), in 

' country lodgings ' kept by Mrs. Fleming. Keeps on, 

perhaps, the Temple rooms. 
1765. Moves into better rooms, Garden Court, Temple. 

Spends summers at Islington. 

1767. A room in summer in ' Canonbury Town,' Islington. 

1768. Buys lease of No. 2 Brick Court, Temple, with 
products of She. Stoops to Conquer (400). 

1768-70. Summers in a cottage on Edgeware Road (' Shoe 
makers' Paradise '). 

1771-3. Summers at farmhouse on Edgeware Road. 

1774. March, at the farmhouse. Returns, and dies at 
Brick Court. 

7. 30. the landlady : suspected by Forster to have been Mrs. 
Fleming, the Islington landlady, with whom Goldsmith had 
many such difficulties. (Hogarth's portrait of her as ' Goldsmith's 
hostess ' was possibly painted at the Islington lodgings to help 
Goldsmith in solving some such difficulty. ) But Islington was a 
long way from Johnson's chambers (then probably in Inner 
Temple Lane), whereas the Temple (Wine Court) room, which 
Goldsmith evidently kept on and used in the winter during these 
years, was quite close. The story here told by Macaulay is 
taken from the account that Boswell professed to have had from 
Johnson himself viz., 'I received one morning a message from 
Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his 
power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon 
as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him 
directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was drest, and found that 
his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a 
violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my 
guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. 
I put the cork into the bottle, desired that he would be calm, 
and began to talk to him of the means by which he might 
be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for 
the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it and saw 
its merit ; told the landlady I should soon return, and having 
gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Gold 
smith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating 
his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill ' (B. 140). 

Mrs. Thrale (Madame Piozzi) gives another version, which 
Boswell inveighs against as utterly untrustworthy. It is 
certainly inconsistent with his. She says : ' I have forgotten 


the year, but it could scarcely, I think, be later than 1765 or 
1766, that he was called abruptly from our house after dinner, 
and returning in about three hours, said that he had been with 
an enraged author, whose landlady pressed him for payment 
within doors, while the bailiffs beset him without ; that he was 
drinking himself drunk with Madeira to drown care, and fretting 
over a novel which, when finished, was to be his whole fortune ; 
but he could not get it done for distraction, nor could he step 
out of doors to offer it for sale. Mr. Johnson therefore sent 
away the bottle, and went to the bookseller, recommending the 
performance, and desiring some immediate relief ; which when 
he brought back to the writer, he called the woman of the 
house directly to partake of punch, and pass their time 
in merriment. It was not till ten years after, I dare say ' 
it could hardly be that, as Goldsmith died early in 1774 
1 that something in Doctor Goldsmith's behaviour struck me with 
an idea that he was the very man, and then Johnson confessed 
that he was so. The novel was the charming Vicar of Wakefield ' 
(Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson, p. 119). 

In his- Essay on BoswelFs Johnson Macaulay falls foul of 
Croker, who had asserted that Madame Piozzi was drawing the 
long bow, seeing that she did not know Johnson till 1765, 
whereas the Vicar of Wakefield was published in 1761. Accord 
ing to Macaulay Johnson got to know the Thrales in 1764 (which, 
however, seems uncertain), and he states that the Vicar was not 
published till 1766 ; on which point he is certainly correct. 

But later researches (by Messrs. Walsh and Dobson) have 
unearthed an entry in the accounts of Benjamin Collins of Salis 
bury (whom some call the printer of the Vicar) which states that 
in 1762 (Oct. 28th) he bought a third part of the novel from 
Goldsmith for twenty guineas. Moreover, an examination of the 
Newberys' accounts shows that the other two shares were in the 
possession of John Newbery's successors (I suppose Francis 
Newbery, his nephew, who, according to Forster, published the 
Vicar) and Strahan, Johnson's special publisher. The simplest 
explanation seems to be that in 1764 or 1765 Johnson was, as he 
stated, summoned by Goldsmith either from his own chambers 
or from the Thrales' house and got Newbery or Strahan to 
pay up their share as 'immediate relief (to use Mrs. Thrale's 
expression), and that he mentioned 60, or 60 guineas, to Boswell 
as the whole amount obtained for the book, not the amount 
(probably 20 or 20 guineas) that he himself raised on it from 
one of the three intending purchasers before it was published, or 
perhaps before it was quite finished. Some fourteen years later, 
after Goldsmith's death, Johnson said : ' His Vicar of Wakefield 
I myself did not think would have much success. It was written 
and sold to a bookseller before his Traveller, but published after. ; 
so little expectation had the bookseller from it. Had it been 

NOTES. 41 

sold after the Traveller, he might have had twice as much 
money for it, though sixty guineas was no mean price ' (B. 480). 

8. 15. the Traveller. A rough sketch of the poem had been 
sent by him when abroad, nearly ten years before, to his brother 
Henry. ' The appearance of the Traveller,' says Washington 
Irving, 'at once altered Goldsmith's intellectual standing in the 
estimation of society ; but its effect upon- the Club, if we may 
judge from the account given by Hawkins (Sir John Hawkins, 
Johnson's biographer and Boswell's special abhorrence) was 
almost ludicrous. They were lost in astonishment that a ' ' news 
paper essayist " and " bookseller's drudge " should have written 
such a poem. On the evening of its announcement Goldsmith 
had gone away early, after " rattling away as usual," and they 
knew not how to reconcile his heedless garrulity with the serene 
beauty, the easy grace, the sound good sense, and the occasional 
elevation of his poetry ... Boswell, who was absent from England 
at this time, was astonished on his return to find Goldsmith, 
whom he had so much undervalued, suddenly elevated almost 
to a par with his idol. He accounted for it by concluding that 
much, both of the sentiments and the expression of the poem, had 
been derived from conversations with Johnson. "He imitates 
you, Sir," said this incarnation of toadyism. "Why no, Sir," 
replied Johnson. "Hawkesworth is one of my imitators, but 
not Goldsmith. Goldy, Sir, has great merit." "But, Sir, he 
is much indebted to you for his getting so high in the public 
estimation." "Why, Sir, he has, perhaps, got sooner to it by 
his intimacy with me."... One of the highest testimonials to the 
charm of the poem was given by Miss Reynolds the self- 
opinionated sister of Sir Joshua who had toasted poor Gold 
smith as the ugliest man of her acquaintance. Shortly after the 
appearance of the Traveller Dr. Johnson read it aloud in her 

B-esence, "Well," exclaimed she, "I shall never more think 
r. Goldsmith ugly ! " 

The following passage from Boswell (B. 452) well illustrates 
Macaulay's statements : ' Goldsmith being mentioned, Johnson 
observed (in 1778) that it was long before his merit came to be 
acknowledged ; that he once complained to him in ludicrous 
terms of distress, " Whenever I write anything, the public make 
a point to know nothing about it " ; but that his Traveller 
brought him into high reputation. ' In the course of the same 
conversation Johnson, after praising the Traveller highly, said : 
' I remember Chamier' a member of the Club and a distinguished 
member of the Government 'after talking with him for some 
time, said, " Well, I do believe he wrote this poem himself ; 
and let me tell you, that is believing a great deal " (see on 13. 24). 
Chamier once asked him what he meant by dow, the last word 
in the first line of the Traveller. Did he mean tardiness of 


locomotion? Goldsmith, who would say something without 
consideration, answered "Yes." I was sitting by, and said : 
"No, Sir; you mean that sluggishness of mind which comes 
upon a man in solitude." Chamier believed then that I had 
written the line as much as if he had seen me write it.' 

Johnson wrote nine lines of the Traveller, viz. the 420th (' To 
stop too fearful and too faint to go ') and the last ten except the 
penultimate couplet. See B. 173. - 

8. 20. Dunciad. 'In March, 1741, Pope published the New 
Dunciad, with the original three books modified, a fourth book 
added, and Colley Gibber, who had been since 1730 Poet 
Laureate, replacing Theobald (the editor of Shakespeare) as its 
hero' (Morley). Macaulay alludes to Johnson's assertion that 
' there had not been so fine a poem since Pope's time' (B. 173). 
It was but natural that Johnson would not mention the poems 
of Gray (Elegy, 1750, Bard, 1757, etc.) as exceptions; for Gray 
was to Johnson a 'mechanical poet,' and a 'dull fellow"; nor 
is it to be wondered at that the author of The Vanity of Human 
Wishes should have placed Pope's verses in the same class with 
the Traveller as 'poetry.' It should be noticed that Johnson 
evidently meant by his remark to disparage not only Gray, but 
also Young, whose Night Thoughts had appeared in 1742-3. 

The following lively passage from Forster may be well inserted 
here, as it refers to the period between the appearance of the 
Traveller and that of the Vicar : 

' Without ita dignified doctorial prefix Goldsmith's name is 
now seldom mentioned (see on 4. 33, 5. 18, and 5. 26) ; even 
Newbery is careful to preserve it in his memoranda of books lent 
for the purposes of compilation ; and he does not seem himself 
to have again laid it wholly aside. Indeed, he now (1765) made 
a brief effort, at the suggestion of Reynolds, to make positive 
professional use of it. It was much to have a regular calling, 
said the successful painter ; it gave a man social rank and con 
sideration in the world. Advantage should be taken of the 
growing popularity of the Traveller. To be at once physician 
and man of letters was the most natural thing possible ... Out 
came Goldsmith accordingly (in the June of this year, according 
to the account-books of Mr. W. Filby, his tailor) in purple silk 
small-clothes, a handsome scarlet roquelaure buttoned close 
under the chin, and with all the additional importance derivable 
from a full-dress professional wig, a sword, and a gold-headed 
cane ... The only instance remembered of his practice was in 
the case of a Mrs. Sidebotham, whose waiting-woman was often 
afterwards known to relate with what a ludicrous assumption of 
dignity he would show off his cloak and his cane, as he strutted, 
with his queer little figure stuck through as with a huge pin by 
his sword, into the sick-room of her mistress. At last it one day 

NOTES. 43 

happened that, his opinion differing somewhat from the apothe 
cary's in attendance, the lady thought her apothecary the safer 
counsellor, and Goldsmith quitted the house in high indigna 
tion ... This seems to have been the close of Doctor Goldsmith's 
professional practice.' It was perhaps on this occasion that 
Goldsmith declared he would give up doctoring his friends or 
would prescribe only for his friends. See on 16. 12. 

8. 34. fourth edition. The Traveller was published .Dec., 
1764, and the Vicar in March, 1766. In August, 1765, the 
fourth edition of the former had appeared ; the ninth was 
printed in the year of Goldsmith's death, 1774. ' It produced a 
golden harvest to Mr. Newbery, but all the remuneration on 
record, doled out by his niggard hand to the author, was twenty 
guineas ! ' (W. I. ) This was probably considered as fairly good 
pay by Goldsmith. It was just elevenpence farthing a line. 
When he received 100 guineas for his Deserted Village (see 10. 7) 
he is said to have offered to return a part of the money to Griffin, 
the publisher, having been struck by the remark of a practical- 
minded friend who had exclaimed that no poetry ever written 
was worth five shillings a couplet. (This story is given as true 
by Dr. Percy, who was more likely than anyone else to know, 
and was repeated by Walter Scott ; but Forster rejects it as 
inconsistent with the fact that Goldsmith had only a few weeks 

Ereviously not scrupled to accept 500 from Griffin ' on the mere 
lith of a book History of England which he had hardly even 
begun to write.') 

9- 2. The fable... Macaulay's dicta on the subject of the 
Vicar have something in common with those of Johnson. ' Miss 
Burney,' said Mrs. Thrale, ' is fond of the Vicar of Wakefield, 
and so am I. Don't you like it, Sir?' 'No, madam,' replied 
Johnson, ' it is very faulty ; there is nothing of real life in it, 
and very little of nature. It is a mere fanciful performance.' 
The much more appreciative accounts given by Washington 
Irving, by Mr. Forster, and by Professor Masson (Globe edn. of 
Goldsmith's works) might be consulted. Mr. William Black, in 
his Goldsmith (English Men of Letters) gives a chapter on the 
subject which is well worth reading. Although he allows that 
many of Goldsmith's 'expedients are nothing short of desperate,' 
he expresses deep admiration for this ' perfect picture of domestic 
life,' this 'simple description of a quiet (?) English home, which 
went straight to the heart of nations in both hemispheres.' 

The Vicar of Wakefield was much praised by Goethe, and is 
or was but a short time ago next perhaps to some of Dickens' 
writings, the English prose classic best known to the educated 
foreigner ; it is, indeed, probably more read abroad than it has 
been read in England (without compulsion) for a good many 
years past. 


9- 8. Moses and Ms spectacles, etc. , etc. It would be worse 
than useless except perhaps in abetment of cram and mark- 
getting to attempt an explanation of these allusions. If the 
book is as yet unknown to the student, it should be obtained and 
read. The humour of Goldsmith's novel is perhaps not so likely 
to 'excite mirth,' harmless or otherwise, in the modern reader as 
the coarser humour of Sterne or Fielding. 

9. 24. Garrick, the celebrated actor, had been one of the three 
pupils that came to Johnson's ' academy ' near Lichfield. In 
1737 he came to London with Johnson, and with him was at one 
time reduced to great straits. He intended to be a lawyer, but 
took to the stage, and ere long began to be recognised as one of 
the first actors of the day. In 1747 he became joint manager of 
Drury Lane Theatre. For the first performance under Garrick's 
management Johnson wrote the Prologue perhaps the best bit 
of verse that he ever wrote in which occur some well-known 
lines on Shakespeare. (For more about Garrick the student 
should consult Boswell's Life, of Johnson. I have given some 
details in my notes on Macaulay's Life of Johnson.) 

It seems that Goldsmith had originally meant his Oood-natured 
Man for Covent Garden, but on the death of the manager, Mr. 
Rich (well known through his connexion with Gay's ' Beggars' 
Opera,' which was said to have ' made Rich gay and Gay rich '), 
he offered it to Garrick. Now Garrick had been annoyed by 
remarks, made in Goldsmith's Inquiry, on theatrical mismanage 
ment and the neglect of contemporary authors. Many irritating 
procrastinations ensued, and Goldsmith was highly incensed by 
what he held to be impertinent alterations in his comedy sug 
gested by Garrick. At last he withdrew the play from Garrick 
and handed it over to Colman, the new manager of Covent 
Garden, who was at this time at loggerheads with Garrick on 
account of some difference that had arisen between them about 
a very successful play, 'The Clandestine Marriage,' of which 
they were the joint authors. 

9. 26. coldly received. Colman was much discouraged at the 
portentous success of Kelly's sentimental comedy, ' False 
Delicacy,' which Garrick had just brought out (Jan. 23) at 
Drury Lane, and his spirits sank lower and lower at each re 
hearsal of Goldsmith's play, while all the actors, except two, 
were thoroughly discontented with their parts. Johnson, who 
had furnished the prologue, was about the only person who gave 
any encouragement. 

On the fateful evening (Jan. 29) Goldsmith, in a suit of 
'Tyrian bloom, satin grain, and garter-blue silk breeches' (as we 
learn from some tell-tale tailor's bills) and with a heart palpitating 
with excitement, took his seat to watch the reception of his 

NOTES. 45 

'Johnson's prologue was solemn in itself, and being delivered 
by Brinsley (Bensley ?) in lugubrious tones, suited to the ghost 
in Hamlet, seemed to throw a portentous gloom on the audience. 
Some of the scenes met with great applause, and at such times 
Goldsmith was highly elated ; others went off coldly, or there 
were slight tokens of disapprobation, and then his spirits would 
sink. The fourth act saved the piece ... it drew down thunders 
of applause. On the whole, however, both the author and his 
friends were disappointed, and considered the piece a failure. 
Poor Goldsmith left the theatre with his towering hopes com 
pletely cut down. He endeavoured to hide his mortification, 
out the moment he was alone with Dr. Johnson, he threw off all 
restraint and gave way to an almost child-like burst of grief ' 
(W. I.). Johnson's prologue even Boswell (B. 188) found de 
pressing. ' Nothing of his writing was given to the public this 
year (1768) except the Prologue ... The first lines are strongly 
characteristic of the dismal gloom of his mind... Who could 
suppose it was to introduce a comedy when Mr. Bensley solemnly 
began : 

Pressed by the load of life, the weary mind 
Surveys the general toil of human kind . . . ?' 

9. 26. benefit nights. It was performed for ten nights in 
succession ; the 3rd, 6th, and 9th nights were for the author's 
benefit ; the 5th night it was commanded by their majesties ; 
after this it was played occasionally but rarely ' (W. I.). Of this 
500 Goldsmith at once presented 10 to the actor (Shuter) who 
had done so much to save the play from failure ; then he bought 
with 400 the lease of a comfortable apartment of three rooms 
(No. 2 Brick Court, Middle Temple), and spent the rest of his 
winnings, and probably a good deal more, in ' mahogany sofas, 
card-tables, book-cases, blue morine curtains, mirrors, Wilton 
carpets, etc.,' and in such items as a suit of clothes ' lined with 
silk and furnished with gold buttons ' as we learn from his bills 
of that period. 

9. 33. False Delicacy. See on 9. 26. Hugh Kelly was 
(according to Sir T. Hawkins) a stay-maker, who took to writ 
ing. He seems to have been a pleasant fellow, and was on 
good terms with Goldsmith, at whose funeral he showed great 
emotion. Johnson behaved very bearishly to him said he 
didn't want to know a man who had written more than he had 
read, and told him that he was not disturbed by his presence 
because he didn't notice him. But after his death (1777) John 
son wrote a prologue (for his widow) to his comedy, A Word 
to the Wise (B. 396). 

9. 34. Sentimentality. To understand Goldsmith's position 
and views, one should read his Essay on Sentimental Comedy 
(Globe edn., p. 346). His argument is, briefly, that according to 


Aristotle comedy has to do with the ' lower part of mankind ' 
and tragedy with ' the great ' ; accordingly, comedy treats frail 
ties and follies, while tragedy treats misfortunes, there being 
nothing ridiculous in ' princes or generals ' and nothing tragic in 
' common people. ' ( ' While we melt for Belisarius, we scarce 
give halfpence to the beggar, who accosts us in the street. The 
one has our pity ; the other our contempt.') Consequently, 
when comedy attempts to portray the misfortunes rather than 
the follies of this ' lower part of mankind,' as is done by 'weep 
ing sentimental comedy' (la comddie larmoyante), it is false to its 
nature and endeavours to excite emotions ' without being truly 
pathetic. ' If the hero is ' but a tradesman ' his misfortunes are 
a subject of perfect indifference to me. Let him go and set up 
another shop ! And however ' good and generous and lavish of 
their tin money on the stage ' these vulgar people may be, they 
have no claim on my respect or sympathy. Their only raison 
d'etre as characters on the stage is that their follies may be 
ridiculed. This argument of Goldsmith's is, of course, pre 
posterous. Quite indiscriminatingly he uses ' comedy ' in the 
two quite distinct senses of the old word as the drama of com 
mon life and as the comic drama and the assertion, due to a 
complete misunderstanding of Aristotle, that there is neither 
anything ridiculous in the rich and titled, nor anything tragic in 
the sufferings of the poor and obscure, needs no refutation. 
Moreover, his contention that comedy and tragedy should not be 
mixed, and that, as Boileau asserts, 

Le comique, ennemi des soupirs et des pleurs, 
N'admet point dans ses vers de tragiques douleurs, 

is, of course, refuted by many scenes in Shakespeare's plays. 
But his main conclusion is doubtless correct. Broad, strong 
humour, even when perfectly fresh and untainted with double 
entendre, was banished from the stage as ' low ' the cant word 
of that day and its place was taken by a mawkish sentiment 
ality, which had nothing in the world to do with real refinement, 
seeing that it was loudly professed by men whose lives and writings 
were of the coarsest. Goldsmith was not afraid of this terrible 
word ' low.' He was content to err with Aristophanes, and with 
Shakespeare. With Terence he could exclaim, ' homo sum ; 
humani nihil a me alienum puto.' In deference to hisses and 
cries of ' low ! low ! ' he was obliged (as he explained in the 
Preface to his published play) to ' retrench ' the bailiff scene on 
the stage, but he printed it all the same ; and in his next 
Comedy, Stie Stoops to Conqitzr, he laughed to death this silly 
sentimentalism and even ' laid its ghost,' as Forster says. 

10- 4. in full court dresses. This is, unless I am mistaken, 
not quite accurate. The bailiffs ' follower,' or ' bull-dog,' 
Flanigan by name, is ' a little seedy ' in regard to apparel, and 

NOTES. 47 

when Miss Richland is announced, young Honeywood dresses 
him up in a blue and gold suit, in order to pass him off as an 
elegant visitor. The bailiff himself is not disguised. 

10- 7. Deserted Village. It was published on May 26th. In 
the dedicatory letter to Sir Joshua Reynolds (who had been 
knighted in the April of the preceding year) Goldsmith says : 
' The only dedication I ever made was to my brother, because I 
loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Per 
mit me to inscribe this Poem to you. ' Henry had died while the 
Deserted Village was in its first beginnings, in the spring of 1768. 
In May of that year Goldsmith was visited by Cooke, a young 
law-student, his neighbour in the Temple, who has left on record 
that the poet read to him ten lines of a new poem and these 
were lines 5 to 15 of the Deserted Village. ' No bad morning's 
work,' exclaimed Goldsmith, and proposed a ' shoemaker's holi 
day,' as he used to call a day's outing. It must have been 
very shortly after this that he learnt of his brother's death, and 
during the following summer, while at his Edgeware cottage, he 
seems to have composed a considerable amount of the poem, 
including the description of the ' village preacher,' who is drawn 
from memories of his much loved brother and also perhaps from 
the fainter memories of his father, who had died twenty years 

It may be here noted that towards the end of this year ( 1 768) 
the Royal Academy was instituted. Reynolds was elected pre 
sident (and knighted a few months later) and Johnson and 
Goldsmith were made professors respectively of Ancient Litera 
ture and Ancient History. About this time (1769) Goldsmith 
made the acquaintance of Mrs. Horneck, a widow, and her two 
daughters an acquaintance which soon ripened into intimacy 
and afforded him a good deal of happiness, mixed perhaps with 
other feelings. A few weeks after the appearance of the Deserted 
Village he went with the Hornecks to Paris. In 1771 the elder 
girl, Catharine (or 'little Comedy '), became Mrs. Bunbury, and at 
Christmas (after spending the summer once more at Edgeware, 
where he wrote She Stoops to Conquer) he visited the Bunburys 
at their place, Barton, in Suffolk, and repeated the visit in 
1773. He became evidently very much attached tc the younger 
girl, Mary better known by her nickname, ' the Jessamy 
bride' who, after Goldsmith's death, married a Colonel 
Gwynn. (She died at a great age in 1840, and retained till the 
last, with evident affection, a lock of Goldsmith's hair which had 
been given her when he died. ) 

10- 9. generally preferred. ' Johnson, though he had taken 
equal interest in the progress of this second poem, contributing to 
the manuscript the four lines which stand last (B. 174), yet thought 
tt inferior to the Traveller. But time has not confirmed that judg- 


ment ' (W. I.). Its success was immediate. In less than three 
months were published five editions. Gray, who was passing 
the last summer of his life at Malvern, is said to have exclaimed, 
' This man is a poet ! ' Goethe also, who already knew and loved 
the Vicar, welcomed warmly the new poem, and ' at once set to 
work to translate it.' 

10- 11- Bayes is the name of the chief character in The 
Rehearsal, a burlesque written (1671) by George Clifford, Duke 
of Buckingham, assisted by Butler, author Hudibras, and others. 
He is perhaps meant to be a caricature of Dryden, the poet- 
laureate (i.e. 'wearer of the bays'). Johnson 'held it very 
cheap.' ' Bayes, in The Rehearsed,' he said, ' is a mighty silly 
character... I question whether it was meant for Dryden, as 
has been reported ' (B. 233). In his Life of Dryden he wrote : 
'Buckingham characterised Dryden in 1761 by the name of 
Bayes in The Rehearsal... It is said that this farce was origi 
nally intended against Davenant.' It was on the subject of this 
play that Johnson so amusingly translated his first simple 
expression into pure Johnsonese. ' It has not wit to keep itself 
sweet," he said (' very unjustly,' remarks Macaulay in his Essay); 
then, after a pause, he rolled forth the words : ' It has not 
vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction ' (B. 649). In 
Act iii. the satirised poet, whether Dryden or not, exclaims that 
a plot is of no use ' but to bring in fine things.' The nick-name 
stuck to Dryden for some time. When he became Roman 
Catholic he was satirized by Thomas Brown under the same 

10- 15. wealth and luxury. His theory is that wealth and 
luxury cause depopulation. In the dedication to Sir T. Reynolds 
he says : ' I know you will object that the depopulation it 
deplores is nowhere to be seen, and the disorders it laments are 
only to be found in the poet's imagination. To this I can 
scarcely make any other answer than that I sincerely believe 
what I have written ; that I have taken all possible pains, in my 
country excursions for these four or five years past, to be certain 
of what I allege...' Goldsmith seems to have been rather fond 
of riding this hobby of his. Some three years later, ' on Tues 
day, April 13, 1773,' says Boswell, 'Johnson and Dr. Goldsmith 
and I dined at General Oglethorpe's. Goldsmith expatiated on 
the common topic that the race of our people had degenerated, 
and that this was owing to luxury. ' Johnson doubted the fact ; 
believed there are as many tall men in England as ever ; 
asserted that luxury only reaches a small number, and in so far 
as it does reach the poorer classes it strengthens and multiplies 
them, instead of causing deterioration and depopulation. At 
the same time he admitted that commerce and manufactures 
have in some ways a deteriorating influence both morally and 

NOTES. 49 

physically. (See also the last four lines in the D. V. , composed 
by Johnson. ) Forster speaks of Adam Smith's Inquiry into the. 
Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations as if it had preceded 
the Deserted Village and had turned Goldsmith's attention to the 
subject. But Adam Smith's celebrated treatise, which was not 
at all in harmony with Goldsmith's theory, did not appear till 
1776. In his Chinese Letters (1760) Goldsmith had already pro 
claimed a theory apparently in diametrical opposition to that of 
the D. V. He had here stated that ' to the accumulation of our 
wealth may be assigned not only the greatest part of our know 
ledge, but even of our virtues, ' and he describes poets, philo 
sophers, and patriots 'marching in luxury's train.' The fact is 
that, as Dr. Johnson said, Goldsmith had 'no settled notions upon 
any subject ' and ' no settled system ' ; or, as Forster puts it, 
' he brought to the subject a mind at least so far from prejudice, 
one way or the other, that at this moment it was open to reason, 
and at the next to sentiment.' Doubtless wealth and luxury 
bring very great evils in their train but, to judge from England 
of our days, depopulation is not one of these, although a certain 
amount of eviction and emigration may be due to landlordism 
and deer forests. However, although this depopulation theory 
is evidently (and perhaps unfortunately) wrong, there can be no 
shadow of a doubt that the true greatness of a nation has 
nothing in the world to do with its wealth and luxury, and 

' states of native strength possest, 
Though very poor, may still be very blest.' 

10. 19. The finest poem... : the poem, in six books, of the 
Roman poet Lucretius on Nature (De Serum Natura). It was 
written about 55 B.C., when Virgil was a boy of fifteen. It 
contains a great deal of very fine poetry as well as a most 
interesting, if at times rather too fanciful, exposition of the 
atomic doctrine of Democritus which, instead of being 'one of 
the silliest and meanest systems of natural philosophy ' was to a 
considerable extent a very wonderful anticipation of much that 
is accepted by modern science. The fine poem of Tennyson 
on Lucretius should be consulted. What Macaulay means by 
mean and silly moral philosophy is the philosophy of Epicurus, 
whom Lucretius followed in ethical and religious matters. This 
philosophy was indeed founded on the materialistic conceptions 
of Democritus, but it was noble in its aims, teaching that the 
highest good is that happiness which is to be attained only by 
virtue. As he thus made happiness, and not (as the Stoics) 
virtue itself, the direct object of philosophy, his doctrine 
naturally suffered misconstruction, and ' Epicureanism ' became 
a bye-word. Macaulay merely uses ' finest ' and ' silliest ' for 
the sake of vivid contrast. He was probably quite aware that 



Democritus and Epicurus were anything but silly although it 
is difficult to predicate anything of a man who was 'provoked at 
the childish quibbling of Socrates ' and was convinced that the 
only merit of Plato lay in his style. 

11. 1. incongruous parts. 'Certainly,' says Prof. Dowden, 
' Auburn is English, but certainly too Paddy Byrne kept school 
there, and Uncle Contarine or Henry Goldsmith occupied the 
rectory.' It is of course easy enough to point out incongruities 
in most great works of imagination often very much more 
striking than in this case. Macaulay, from his juvenile Essay on 
Milton up to the moment that he penned this passage the last, I 
think, that he wrote of this nature never ceased to illustrate 
the truth of what, in 1838, he said in a letter to Mr. Napier, an 
editor of the Edinburgh Review : ' I am not successful in analysing 
the effect of works of genius. I have never written a page of 
criticism on poetry or the fine arts which I would not burn, if I 
had the power.' The fact is that such combinations as are here 
condemned may exist, and do often exist, in poetry, where (as 
Lessing has shown in his Laocoon) they would be impossible in 
painting. From Homer, Dante, and Milton many examples 
might be given. The incongruity that offends ordinary common 
sense is a very different thing from the incongruity which 
is a stumbling-block to the imagination. In the Deserted 
Village poetic imagination finds nothing to stumble at. 

11. 1. the village. A certain Captain Hogan, we learn from 
Washington Irving, bought up the estate on which the village 
and parsonage of Lissoy stood, and gave the name of Auburn 
(from Goldsmith's poem) to his mansion and its surroundings. 
The tenants, it is asserted, had been turned out of their farms 
by his predecessor, a General Napier, who wished to add to his 
private grounds. Captain Hogan improved the place so much as 
to make it a fair resemblance to Goldsmith's Auburn and not 
merely endeavoured to preserve an old hawthorn tree and other 
natural features that may possibly have been in Goldsmith's 
mind when writing his poem, but with very questionable taste 
renovated or built a village ale-house to which he gave the name 
of ' The three jolly pigeons ' (Tony Lumpkins' ale-house in She 
Stoops to Conquer) and got up the interior after Goldsmith's 
description, with 'whitewashed wall and nicely sanded floor,' 
an old clock, and all the rest of it. What the present state of 
affairs is at Lissoy I do not know except that ' the hawthorn 
tree has long ago been cut up, root and branch, in furnishing 
relics to literary pilgrims.' 

11. 16. She Stoops to Conquer. Colman, who had croaked so 
persistently about the Ooodnatured Man, was only prevailed 
upon (says Johnson) by ' much solicitation, nay, a kind of force' 
to accept the new comedy and 'predicted its ill success.' Col- 

NOTES. 51 

man was ' most amply punished by its success, and by the 
taunts, epigrams and censures levelled at him through the press, 
in which his false prophecies were jeered at ; and he was openly 
taxed with literary jealousy' (W. I.). Till almost the last 
moment before representation the play had no fixed title. ' We 
are all in labour for a name for Goldy's play,' wrote Johnson. 
Sir J. Reynolds proposed 'The Belle's Stratagem.' At length 
4 The Mistakes of a Night ' was fixed upon, to which the words 
' She Stoops to Conquer ' were prefixed oy Goldsmith. ' Stoops 
indeed ? ' exclaimed Horace Walpole. ' So she does that is the 
Muse.' That exquisite, according to whom Goldsmith was 
' silly ' and an ' idiot,' had to allow that he was at least an 
' inspired idiot," and that his ' lowest of all farces ' had ' succeeded 
prodigiously,' although the characters were ' very low and aimed 
at low humour and not one of them says a sentence that is 
natural, or marks any character at all.' As regards the title, 
Forster thinks Goldsmith probably remembered Dryden's line, 
' But kneels to conquer, and but stoops to rise.' For the chief 
incident of the plot see on 2. 30. 

11. 25. Kelly. See on 9. 33. 

11. 26. Cumberland, Richard, is mentioned a good many times 
in' BoswelFs Life. He was one of the sentimental comedians of 
the day, and is supposed to have been mortified at the success of 
Goldsmith's play, as is testified by one of the many epigrams 
that appeared in the newspapers, namely : 

' At Doctor Goldsmith's merry play 

All the spectators laugh, they say, 

The assertion, Sir, I must deny, 

For Cumberland and Kelly cry.' 

Curiously, it is in Cumberland's Memoirs that we have the 
fullest account of the performance, and still more curiously, he 
writes as if he had been one of the most vociferous of a packed 
audience in favour of the play. It is thought, however, that he 
fabricated the account long afterwards, and wished it to be 
believed that he never had been so foolish as to oppose Gold 
smith as a great play-writer. It is known that he resented not 
being admitted ' as one of the set ' by Johnson and his friends. 
Northcote tells us that ' if he had been in the room, Goldsmith 
would have flown out of it as if a dragon had been there.' 

11. 26. to hiss. ' Goldsmith had not dared to be present at 
the first performance (as he had done when the Ooodnatured Man 
was acted). He had been so overcome by his apprehensions that 
at the preparatory dinner he could hardly utter a word, and was 
so choked that he could hardly swallow a mouthful. When his 
friends trooped to the theatre, he stole away to St. James' Park. 
There he was found by a friend, wandering up and down the 


Mall like a troubled spirit. With difficulty he was persuaded to 
go to the theatre. He arrived at the opening of the fifth Act 
and made his way behind the scenes. Just as he entered, "there 
was a slight hiss. "What's that? what's that?" cried Gold 
smith to the manager in great agitation. "Pshaw! Doctor," 
replied Colman sarcastically, ' ' don't be frightened at a squib, 
when we've been sitting these two hours on a barrel of gun 
powder ! " ... The solitary hiss, which startled Goldsmith, was 
ascribed by some of the newspaper scribblers to Cumberland' 
(W. I.). 

Amid the almost universal applause with which the press 
greeted She Stoops to Conquer were a few hostile voices. Of 
these only one is worth noticing, and that because of the 
amusing scene that it caused. It was a very gross personal 
attack, probably written by the notorions Dr. Kenrick, who so 
often assailed both Goldsmith and Johnson in the most rancorous 
fashion. (For Kenrick, see my notes to Macaulay's Life, of 
Johnson. ) Not only did the writer of this letter, which appeared 
in a newspaper, talk about Goldsmith's surveying ' for hours his 
grotesque orang-outang's figure in a pier-glass,' but he also 
alluded to his tender passion for the 'lovely H k' (i.e. Miss 
Horneck, the ' Jessamy Bride '). Goldsmith, not being able to 
discover the anonymous writer, called on Evans, the publisher 
of the paper, and attacked him with a cane. Evans, a strong- 
built Welshman, closed with his assailant, and the fray was not 
ended till ' a lamp hanging overhead was broken and sent down 
a shower of oil on the combatants,' and poor Goldsmith 
' exceedingly battered ' was led away home it is said, by Ken 
rick himself and afterwards had to pay 50 to a Welsh charity 
for the assault. Johnson, who had himself belaboured a 
publisher (Osborne) with a folio, was pleased. When Boswell 
asked him about this ' adventure,' he replied, ' Why, Sir, I 
believe it is the first time he has beat ; he may have been beaten 
before. This, Sir, is a new plume to him.' And when, to stop 
the deluge of ridicule and censure that issued from the press, 
Goldsmith published a manifesto proclaiming the right of a man 
to take the law into his own hands under such circumstances, 
Johnson, regarding it as too great a concession to the public, 
called it a 'foolish thing well done.' 

11. 29. that night : i.e. March 15th, 1773. 

11. 34. History of Rome. This was a job given him in 1767 
by the publisher Davies (for whom see on 7. 18). It was to be 
completed (two octavo volumes of 500 pages each) in two years, 
and the fee was 250 guineas. It was published in 1769 and 
abridged in 1 772, and had a very large sale for a loug period. 

11. 34. History of England. This was in four volumes. It 
was also a job given him by Davies in June, 1769, soon after the 

NOTES. 53 

successful reception of the Roman History, and after he had 
begun Animated Nature for the publisher Griffin ; and the stipu 
lated fee was 500 in the first instance. Goldsmith used his 
former History of England a good deal in this compilation (see 
on 6. 22). Both this and also his Roman History (i.e. their 
abridgments) were to be seen on many school-room and nursery 
bookshelves some fifty years ago, and may still be found in old- 
fashioned households. He allows in the Preface that it is com 
piled from Rapin, Carte, Smollett, and Hume. 

11. 35. a History of Greece : was not published till after his 
death, in 1774. Natural History (which had the title a History 
of Earth and Animated Nature) was to consist of eight volumes 
of 400 pages, each at 100 guineas, and it seems indubitable that 
Goldsmith ' exacted an advance of 500 guineas, which he wholly 
expended before half a dozen chapters were written ' (F. ). The 
' booksellers ' consisted of the publisher Griffin. Goldsmith put 
aside the Natural History in order to finish the English History 
(which was published in August, 1771), and then worked hard at 
it when in the country (Edgeware), where Boswell found the 
walls of his room covered with ' curious scraps of descriptions of 
animals scrawled with a black lead pencil ' (15. 239). It was 
Goldsmith's original intention to translate and annotate Pliny 
(the Elder), but ' the appearance of Buffon's work induced him to 
change his plan and make use of that author for a guide and 
model' (W. I.). He drew also from Margrave, Gesner, and 
many others for his facts and fictions. Johnson said : ' Gold 
smith, Sir, will give us a very fine book. He will make it as 
interesting as a Persian tale . . . but if he can distinguish a cow 
from a horse, that, I believe, may be the extent of his knowledge 
of natural history. ' Boswell asserts that Goldsmith ' faithfully 
transferred* from Buffon the statement that a cow sheds her 
horns every two years. This is, however, not quite accurate. 
Goldsmith asserts (An. Nat., in. 12) that ' at three years old the 
cow sheds its horns, and new ones arise in their place, which con 
tinue as long as it lives.' 

12- 9. reprinted : i.e. in an abridged form for schools. 

12- 10. nearly hoaxed. Gibbon, the historian (it is said), 
visited him one day when he was engaged with his Grecian 
History, and, when asked by Goldsmith (too lazy to look it up) 
the name of the Indian king who gave Alexander so much 
trouble, he answered jokingly Montezuma, instead of Porus ; 
whereupon, it is said, Goldsmith gravely wrote it down. It 
seems to me very probable that this is one of the many cases in 
which Goldsmith purposely turned the laugh against himself in 
telling the story. As for Montezuma, Macaulay himself has 
informed us (Etatay on Clive) that ' every schoolboy knows who 
imprisoned Montezuma.' Quite as amusing a mistake was com- 


mitted by Macaulay himself in connexion with this selfsame 
History of Greece. In his Essay on Warren Hastings he had 
written, ' It would be unfair to estimate Goldsmith by the Vicar 
of Wakefield.' When the famous blue and yellow Review 
appeared with this new essay of Macaulay's, he was over 
whelmed with consternation, and wrote in a fever of agitation to 
the editor to point out the ' absurd blunder ' the substitution, 
caused by some fatal slip of the pen, of Goldsmith's chef-d'oeuvre 
instead of the intended History of Greece. As is usual in such 
cases, no one else seemed to have noticed, or cared a straw about, 
the mistake. 

12. 14. gigantic Patagonians, etc. All these and many other 
things are quoted from his book by his biographers (see Forster, 
Bk. IV. chap. x. ). There seems somewhat more truth in the 
gigantic Patagonians than in the preaching monkeys and gossip 
ing nightingales, which (Gesner relates) were heard ' repeating 
what they had overheard of a long and not remarkably decent 
conversation between a drunken tapster and his wife.' Dr. 
Johnson ' used to boast that he had from the first resisted both 
Ossian and the Giants of Patagonia ' ( Tour, 299). A Captain 
Byron had brought home reports of these Patagonian giants. 
1 0, but we have discovered a race of giants ! ' exclaims Horace 
Walpole. ' Captain Byron has found a nation of Brobdignags on 
the coast of Patagonia : the inhabitants on foot taller than he 
and his men on horseback ...' 

12- 20. that the sun... I confess that this fact was unknown 
to me as it perhaps is to some readers who have not had the 
advantages of Macaulay's schoolboy. I am indebted to Professor 
Wolfer, the Zurich astronomer, for kindly pointing out to me 
that from the spring equinox (March 21) to the autumn equinox 
(Sept. 23) there are 186 days, as against 179 during the time that 
the sun is to the south of the sidereal equator ; and also for the 
explanation of this fact which is due to the elliptical form of 
the earth's orbit round the sun, and the consequent variation in 
the pace of the sun's apparent motion. Mr. Edward Carpenter, 
who is an astronomer as well as a poet, writes to me that this 
fact is ' the basis for the theory that, owing to the winters in the 
S. hemisphere being so much longer than in the N. , enormously 
greater accumulations of ice must take place round the S. pole 
than round the N. pole (which seems actually to be the case). 
Hence great oceans have been formed in S. seas, owing to the 
centre of gravity of the earth being displaced. Hence also a 
Noachian deluge every 12,500 years, when conditions are 
reversed ! ' 

12. 22. Maupertius was a French savant. In 1736 he headed 
a scientific expedition which was sent to Lapland in order to 
discover by measurements the exact length of the degree of 

NOTES. 55 

longitude in those latitudes. He was set at the head of the 
newly instituted Berlin Academy by Frederick the Great. 
Voltaire, then at Frederick's court (see on 5. 9), was jealous of 
his influence, and lampooned him in what Macaulay calls the 
'exouisitely ludicrous diatribe of Doctor Akakia' whereat 
Frederick was incensed, and demanded apology. This caused 
Voltaire's withdrawal from Berlin, followed by his rough usage 
at Frankfurt (Essays, p. 815). 

The story given here by Macaulay is probably not true, for it 
was told, says Forster (IV. x.), byKenrick, in revenge for having 
been compelled to apologise to Goldsmith for one of his many 
libellous attacks. 

12. 26. his upper Jaw. That the crocodile moves its 
upper jaw used to be known to every schoolboy who had 
made a fair start in his Arnold's Greek exercises ; but perhaps 
up-to-date education has allowed the fact to drop out of sight. 
The story about Goldsmith and his upper jaw is related by 
William Cooke, the young Irish law-student already mentioned, 
who had rooms near Goldsmith's at the Temple. 

12. 32. arts of selection ... his histories ... This agrees on the 
whole with, and is indeed partly borrowed from, Johnson's 
remarks on the same subject. In Goldsmith's epitaphs (17. 16), 
both Greek and Latin, Johnson gives him the titles of natural 
philosopher and historian (Physicus, Historicus), as well as of 
poet, and asserts that he adorned every subject that he touched. 
That he meant this seriously is evident from the following 
passage : 

Johnson : ' Whether we take him as a poet, as a comic writer, 
or as an historian, he stands in the first class.' Boswell : ' An 
historian ! My dear Sir, you surely will not rank his compila 
tion of Roman history with the works of other historians of this 
age?' Johnston : ' Why, who are before him?' Boswell here 
upon mentions Hume, Robertson, and others. Johnson had not 
read Hume, but he asserts that much of Robertson's history is 
mere romance and ' verbiage,' and that ' no man will read his 
cumbrous detail a second time, whereas Goldsmith's plain narra 
tive will please again and again... Sir,' he adds, 'he has the 
art of compiling, and of saying everything he has to say in a 
pleasing manner ' (B. 260). A further proof of the estimation in 
which Goldsmith was held as historian is the fact that he was 
selected as professor in Ancient History to the Royal Academy. 

13- 5. bulks. Cf. ' to sleep on a bulk in June and amidst the 
ashes of a glass-house in December ' (Essay on Boswell's Life, 
p. 30). The word means a wooden framework (connected with 
Germ. Balken, and our balk and balcony) and was used for fruit 
and fish stalls, etc. , made of rough rafters, erected at the sides 
of streets. 


13. 12. Burke... Garrick. See on 7. 18 and 9. 24. Topham 
Beauclerk plays a considerable r6le in Boswell's Life of Johnson. 
He was grandson of the Duke of St. Albans, who was the son of 
Charles II. and Nell Gwynn. Johnson was introduced to him 
on a visit to Oxford, and the ponderous moralist and the aristo 
cratic young wit and rake became very intimate afterwards in 
London. ' What a coalition ! ' was Garrick's exclamation. 
Beauclerk's wife, ' Lady Di ' (somewhat celebrated as an artist), 
was the divorced Viscountess Bolingbroke, and daughter of the 
second Duke of Marlborough. Beauclerk had doubtless loose 
principles or, as he himself expressed it, if he had good 
principles he did not wear them out in practice but he was 
much loved by Johnson, who was deeply affected by his death 
(B. 520 and 530). For Lady Di, see B. 281, 295, and Tour 349 ; 
and for Beauclerk see my edition of Macaulay's Life of Johnson. 

13- 18. blundering rattle. Of what Macaulay calls the 'over 
whelming evidence ' I can give only a few items mostly from 
Boswell : and it must be remembered that Boswell had a very 
poor opinion of Goldsmith, and was utterly unconscious of the 
fact that Goldsmith was a far greater man than he himself, and 
in some respects even greater than Johnson. 

(1) 'It has been generally circulated and believed,' says 
Boswell patronisingly, ' that Goldsmith was a mere fool in con 
versation ; but in truth this has been greatly exaggerated. He 
had no doubt a more than common shai'e of that hurry of ideas 
which we often find in his countrymen, and which sometimes 
produces a laughable confusion in expressing them... His 
mind resembled a fertile but thin soil. There was a quick, but 
not strong, vegetation of whatever chanced to be thrown upon 
it. No deep root could be struck . . . He was very much what 
the French call un etourdi, and from vanity and an eager desire 
of being conspicuous, he frequently talked carelessly, without 
knowledge of the subject or even without thought...' And 
Boswell adds to this some very ill-natured remarks : ' His person 
was short, his countenance coarse and vulgar . . . Those who 
were in any way distinguished excited envy in him to so 
ridiculous an excess that the instances of it are hardly credible ' 
(B. 139). 

(2) ' During this argument Goldsmith sat in restless agitation, 
from a wish to get in and shine. Finding himself excluded, he 
had taken his hat to go away, but remained for some time with 
it in his hand... When he was beginning to speak he found 
himself overpowered by the loud voice of Johnson, who was at 
the opposite end of the table, and did not perceive Goldsmith's 
attempt. Thus disappointed of his wish to obtain the attention 
of the company, Goldsmith in a passion threw down his hat, 
looking angrily at Johnson and exclaiming in a bitter tone. Take 

NOTES. 57 

it] ... When Toplady was going to speak, Johnson uttered some 
sound which led Goldsmith to think that he was beginning again, 
and taking the word from Toplady. Upon which he seized the 
opportunity of venting his own envy and spleen : " Sir," said he 
to Johnson, " the gentleman has heard you patiently for an 
hour ; pray allow us now to hear him ! " To which Johnson 
sternly replied : " Sir, I was not interrupting the gentleman. I 
was only giving him a signal of my attention. Sir, you are 
impertinent." ' In the evening, at the Club, Johnson begged 
Goldsmith's pardon, and it was at once given for Goldy was as 
4 irascible as a hornet ' but as placable as Horace and ' they 
were on as easy terms as ever,' adds Bos well, 'and Goldsmith 
rattled away as ever' (B. 267). 

(3) 'On our way to the Club I regretted that Goldsmith 
would upon every occasion endeavour to shine... I observed 
that he had a great deal of gold in his cabinet, but, not content 
with that, was always taking out his purse. "Yes, Sir," said 
Johnson, " and that is often an empty purse"... He was still 
more mortified once when talking in a company with fluent 
vivacity, and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all 
who were present ; a German who sat next him, and perceived 
Johnson rolling himself as if about to speak, suddenly stopped 
Goldsmith, saying, "Stay, stay Toctor Shonson is going to 
say something ! " This was no doubt very provoking, especially 
to one so irritable as Goldsmith, who frequently mentioned it 
with strong expressions of indignation ' (B. 269). Washington 
Irving, however, says that Goldsmith quietly retorted by asking 
the man (who was a Swiss, by name Moser) whether he was 
quite sure that he would understand Johnson when he did say 
' something.' 

(4) 'Goldsmith,' said Dr. Johnson, 'had no settled notions 
upon any subject ; so he talked always at random. It seemed to 
be his intention to blurt out whatever was in his mind, and see 
what would become of it. He was angry too, when catched in 
an absurdity ; but it did not prevent him from falling into 
another the next minute ' (B. 452). 

(5) On the other hand we hear of a number of occasions when 
Goldsmith held his own very well with Johnson, such as when he 
said that if he, Johnson, tried to write fables he would make the 
little fishes talk like whales ; and when he posed Johnson, who was 
voraciously devouring rump-steaks, with the question how many 
such rump-steaks would reach from the earth to the moon. In 
clever retort and remark Goldsmith was by no means deficient. 
Nothing could be better than his two remarks about Johnson : 
that he had 'nothing of the bear but the skin,' and that a 
metaphor borrowed from Gibber 'when his pistol misses fire, he 
knocks one down with the butt end.' Mr. Black goes perhaps 
a little too far in saying that Goldsmith was too clever for his 


company and that, when he poked fun at himself and others and 
his jokes fell flat, one should conceive him as ' standing aghast, 
and wondering how it could please Providence to create such 
hopeless stupidity.' 

The truth seems to be that a gift for conversation is a very 
fallacious test, or rather no test at all, of intellectual power, and 
in Johnson's circle it was accepted as the sole test. The names 
of Virgil, Horace and Dante, are enough to remind us sufficiently 
that intellectual power does not always express itself 
loquaciously. Hume is said to have had nothing to say for 
himself. Rousseau describes himself as a fool un sot in 
company ; and Addison said to a lady who reproached him for 
his silence : ' Madam, I have but nine-pence in ready money, but 
I can draw for a thousand pounds.' (Addison's conversation 
with familiar friends was, as Macaulay tells us in his Essay, 
exceedingly charming, but, as Pope said of him, ' before strangers 
he preserved his dignity by a stiff silence.') 

13. 22. Inspired idiot. ' Mr. Horace Walpole,' says Boswell, 
' who admired his writings, said he was an inspired idiot ' (B. 
139 n). Also in his Letters (V. 458) Horace Walpole says : ' I 
have no thirst to know the rest of my countrymen, from the 
absurd bombast of Dr. Johnson down to the silly Dr. Goldsmith.' 

13. 23. wrote like an angel... On one occasion, according 
to one account, when Goldsmith did not appear at the usual hour 
at the Club some of the members amused themselves by writing 
epitaphs on the ' late Dr. Goldsmith.' Garrick's own account 
(given by Forster) is that Goldsmith ' with great eagerness 
insisted upon trying his epigrammatic powers with Mr. Garrick, 
and each of them was to write the other's epitaph. Mr. Garrick 
immediately said that his was finished, and spoke the following 
distich extempore : 

1 Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll, 
Who wrote like an angel but talked like poor Poll. 
Goldsmith, upon the company's laughing very heartily, grew very 
thoughtful... and some weeks after produced Retaliation ' (see on 
16. 33). The reading ' and talked ' appears in a version given in 
the European Magazine. ' Noll ' (short for ' Nolly,' which is 
short for 'Oliver') was Goldsmith's familiar name from early 

13. 24. Chamier. See on 8. 15. 

13. 26. Even Boswell... 'Of our friend Goldsmith he said: 
" Sir, he is so much afraid of being unnoticed, that he often talks 
lest you should forget that he is in the company "... Boswell: 
"For my part, I like very well to hear honest Goldsmith talk 
away carelessly." Johnson: "Why yes, Sir; but he should 
not like to hear himself '" (B. 240). 

NOTES. 59 

13- 33. turbid. Possibly Macaulay remembered that Johnson 
was rather fond of applying the word ' muddy ' to people, mean- 
iug ' cloudy in mind, dull,' as he explains it in his Dictionary. 
In a letter to his brother, Goldsmith uses the same image : ' I 
would compare the man whose youth has been passed in the 
tranquillity of dispassionate prudence to liquors that never 
ferment, and consequently continue always muddy." 

Directly Goldsmith took a pen in his hand, as Johnson said, 
he became another man. 'No man was more foolish when he 
had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had ' (Hill, 2. 
236 ) Rousseau says almost the same of himself : ' Je fais 
d'excellents impromptus a loisir ; mais sur le temps je n'ai jamais 
rieu fait ni dit qui vaille. Je ferais une fort jolie conversation 
par la poste, comme les Espagnols jouent aux echecs ' (Con 
fessions, iii.). 

14- 22. Sensual. See on 3. 34. The word is perhaps a little 
too strong. ' Dr. Goldsmith,' said Johnson, ' is one of the first 
men we now have as an author, and he is a very worthy man 
too. He has been loose in his principles, but he is coming right ' 
(B. 138). Boswell forgetting the maxim about glass houses 
is less amiable and probably less just : ' Goldsmith, I am afraid, 
had no settled system, so that his conduct must not be strictly 
scrutinised. ' But he allows that ' his affections were social and 
generous, and when he had money he gave it away very 
liberally ' (B. 140). In a retort to Retaliation Garrick speaks of 
Goldsmith as ' the rake and the poet." Washington Irving says 
this charge ' is not borne out by the course of Goldsmith's life ... 
The strictest scrutiny has detected no settled vice.' He was 
neither a habitual sot (as Boswell may perhaps be described) nor 
a habitual gamester nor a libertine. 

14- 22. frivolous does not seem the right word. Goldsmith 
loved to play the fool at times, with children of all ages, and was 
involved, both passively and actively, in many practical jokes, 
sometimes of rather a rough nature. But neither this nor 
dancing, masquerading, strutting about in gaudy clothes, etc., 
constitutes frivolity. 

14. 22. profuse. Of his profuseness and improvidence many 
examples might be given besides those that I have already cited. 
One of his last acts of generous extravagance occurred a few 
weeks before his death. He gave a very costly dinner to 
Johnson, Reynolds, and others of his intimates ' who partook 
with sorrow and reluctance of his imprudent hospitality. The 
first course vexed them by its needless profusion. When a 
second, equally extravagant, was served up, Johnson and 
Reynolds refused to partake of it ; the rest of the company, 
understanding their motives, followed their example, and the 


dishes went from the table untasted. Goldsmith felt sensibly 
this silent and well-intended rebuke ' ( W. I. ). 

14- 23. envy. See Boswell's allegations given on 13. 18. 
And yet let us give the devil his due even Boswell at times 
affects, more or less sincerely, to defend him against the more 
or less authentic accusations of Johnson and others. Thus : 
4 Talking of Goldsmith, Johnson said he was very envious. I 
defended him, by observing that he owned it on all occasions. 
Johnson: " Sir, you are enforcing the charge. He had so much 
envy, that he could not conceal it. He was so full of it that he 
overflowed " ' (B. 459). ' Upon another occasion, when Gold 
smith confessed himself to be of an envious disposition, I 
contended with Johnson that we ought not to be angry with 
him : he was so candid in owning it. " Nay, Sir," said Johnson, 
44 we must be angry that a man has such a superabundance of an 
odious quality that he cannot keep it within his own breast, but 
it boils over." In my opinion, however, Goldsmith had not 
more of it than other people have ; but only talked of it freely ' 
(B. 270). But Boswell directly afterwards remarks, rather 
nastily, that Goldsmith was very jealous because Johnson was 
going to travel in Scotland with him, Boswell. 

After Johnson's interview with the king, 1767, 4 Dr. Gold 
smith,' says Boswell, 4 remained unmoved upon a sofa at some 
distance, affecting not to join in the least in the eager curiosity of 
the company. He assigned as a reason for his gloom and seeming 
inattention that he apprehended Johnson had relinquished his 
purpose of furnishing him with a Prologue to his play (The 
Good-natured Man), but it was strongly suspected that he was 
fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. 
Johnson had lately received. At length the frankness and 
simplicity of his natural character prevailed. He sprung from 
the sofa, advanced to Johnson, and, in a kind of nutter from 
imagining himself in the situation which he had just been hear 
ing described, exclaimed : 4< Well, you acquitted yourself better 
than I should have done ; for I should have bowed and 
stammered through the whole of it " ' (B. 187). 

15- 1. you harrow up... Boswell frequently accuses Gold 
smith of having been jealous of Johnson. ' When his literary 
reputation had risen deservedly high and his society was much 
courted, he became very jealous of the extraordinary attention 
which was everywhere paid to Johnson. One evening in a circle 
of wits, he found fault with me for talking of Johnson as entitled 
to the honour of unquestionable superiority. 44 Sir," said he, 
" you are for making a monarchy of what should be a republic " ' 
(B. 269). 

15. 2. Steevens : well known as an editor of Shakespeare. 

NOTES. 61 

He helped Johnson in the revised edition of his annotated 
Shakespeare (1773). ' Steevens had previously (1766) reprinted 
twenty of Shakespeare's plays from the early quarto editions ... 
The edition of Johnson and Steevens in 15 volumes, 1793, often 
called Sleevena' own, is that which shows his work at its best ' 

In Boswell's book we find Steevens in familiar intercourse 
with Johnson, whose letters to him are full of affection and 
pleasantry. He was elected into the Club, on Johnson's proposal, 
in 1774, at the same time as Gibbon. According to Boswell, 
Steevens was what Macaulay here says, and worse, but Johnson 
always defended him. On one occasion (B. 464) Beauclerk, 
according to Boswell, said to Johnson : ' You, Sir, have a friend 
(naming Steevens) who deserves to be hanged, for he speaks 
against those with whom he lives on the best terms, and attacks 
them in the newspapers. He certainly ought to be kicked.' 
Whereupon Johnson replied that he was not malignant, but only 
mischievous, and ' would do no man an essential injury.' On 
another occasion (B. 630), when Steevens was again accused of 
' attacking people by anonymous paragraphs in newspapers,' 
Johnson said : * Come, come, this is not so terrible a crime ; he 
only means to vex them a little. ' In his Curiosities of Literature 
D'lsraeli describes Steevens as guilty of ' an unparalleled series 
of arch deception and malicious ingenuity,' and quotes instances 
of his literary impostures. 

15. 12. Cumberland. See on 11. 26. 

15. 12. cruelly treated... Forster, especially, takes this 
line. At times he really makes himself rather ridiculous by his 
hysterics, and by his diatribes against a world so lost to the 
sense of all that is great, and a Christianity that had existed 
for seventeen centuries and more without ever so far rising to 
the consciousness of its ' spiritual responsibilities ' as to come to 
the succour of poor Goldsmith when in mortal terror of arrest by 
the bailiff for not paying his milk-score. Mr. Black, in his Life 
of Ooldsmith, ridicules this notion no less than Macaulay, but 
gives a perhaps fairer account of the matter than Macaulay, who 
was apparently incapable of seeing far below the surface of 
human character. ' How Goldsmith managed to live at all,' says 
Mr. Black, ' is a mystery : it is certain that he must have en 
dured a great deal of want ; and one may well sympathise with 
so gentle and sensitive a creature reduced to such straits, without 
inquiring too curiously into the causes of his misfortunes. If, on 
the one hand, we cannot accuse society, or Christianity, or the 
English government, of injustice and cruelty because Goldsmith 
gambled away his chances and was called on to pay the penalty, 
on the other hand we had better inquire into the origin of those 
defects of character which produced such results.' 


15. 26. Olive. ' As to Clive, there was no limit to his 
acquisitions but his own moderation. The treasury of Bengal 
was thrown open to him. There were piled up immense masses 
of coin ... Clive walked between heaps of gold and silver, 
crowned with rubies and diamonds, and was at liberty to help 
himself. He accepted between two and three hundred thousand 
pounds' (Macaulay's Clive). Meer Jaffier afterwards bestowed 
on Clive about 30,000 yearly income. After his return to 
England, says Macaulay, ' his whole annual income, in the 
opinion of Sir John Malcolm, who is desirous to state it as low 
as possible, exceeded 40,000.' 

15. 26. Sir Lawrence Dundas made a great fortune as manager 
of the commissariat and as contractor for the army in Germany 
during the early part of the Seven Years' War. 

15. 29. dinners ... See on 14. 22. 

15. 35. from boyhood a gambler. He evidently lost a good 
deal of money by cards at College, and did a certain amount of 
gambling with his queer mates at Conway's Inn (4. 2), and we 
hear of high play at cards at Mr. Flinn's (4. 11), and he lost 50 
in a Dublin gaming-house (4. 22). Washington Irving (chap. 44) 
says and supports the assertion by quoting from some con 
temporary of Goldsmith that the strictest scrutiny has proved 
that he was not a habitual gamester. He was fond of cards, 
though an unskilful and careless player, and may have too fre 
quently been drawn into playing high stakes with men like 
Beauclerk. ' Indeed, part of his financial embarrassments may 
have arisen from losses of this kind, incurred inadvertently (!), 
not in indulgence of a habit ! ' 

16. 4. never began. I remember no case of this, but (as 
Johnson did in the case of his Shakespeare and on other occasions) 
Goldsmith certainly got large advances of money, and had spent 
it all, before he had written very much of the promised work. 
This happened in the case of his Natural History and his History 
of England. See on 11. 35 and 8. 34. The fact that he died 
heavily in debt may have been due to such advances. 

16- 5. more than 2000. This is evidently taken from what 
Johnson said in a letter to Boswell : ' Of poor dear Dr. Gold 
smith there is little to be told more than the papers have made 
public. He died of a fever, made, I am afraid, more violent by 
uneasiness of mind. His debts began to be heavy and all his 
resources were exhausted. Sir Joshua is of opinion that he 
owed no less than two thousand pounds. Was ever poet so 
trusted before?' (B. 277). This letter was written on July 4th, 
1774, just three months after Goldsmith's death. It seems 
almost incredible, but indubitable, that during these three 
months Johnson wrote to Boswell (whom he had left half a year 

NOTES. 63 

before in Scotland) about hia precious Journey to the. Western 
Island*, but never mentioned Goldsmith, though Boswell had 
begged him for details. On the next day (July 5th) he wrote 
somewhat similarly to Langton : ' He died of a fever, exas 
perated, as I believe, by the fear of distress. He had raised 
money and squandered it by every artifice of acquisition and 
folly of expense. But let not his frailties be remembered : he 
was a very great man ' (B. 277). 

16. 7. he was attacked... The Christmas he had spent at 
Barton with the Bunburys and Miss Horneck (the ' Jessamy 
Bride '). Early in 1774 he was feeling so ill that he made up his 
mind to sell the lease of his Brick Court apartment, and went to 
his Edgeware lodging, where he worked for a time at his Natural 
History, and finished it. Here, too, he seems to have added con 
siderably to Retaliation (for which see below). But, his state of 
health becoming worse, he was forced to return to Brick Court 
about the middle of March. 

16. 12. Padua. See on 5. 18, and for his attempts at medical 
practice see on 8. 20. Forster connects Beauclerk's advice with 
Goldsmith's unsuccessful attempt at doctoring in the case of 
Mrs. Sidebotham (F. 3. 11), and says that he left the house in 
indignation, and declared that he would ' leave off prescribing 
for nis friends,' and that Beauclerk answered, 'Do so, my dear 
Doctor. Let it be your enemies.' Mrs. Sidebotham is certainly 
described as ' one of his acquaintances of the better sort ' ; but 
he most certainly did not only practice on friends, so the 
story hasn't much point as thus told. Whence Macaulay derived 
his version I cannot say. 

16. 17. The remedy. This seems to have been the once 
fashionable anti-febrile nostrum known as 'James' powder,' 
invented by a Dr. James (of whose Medicinal Dictionary Johnson 
wrote a part. See B. 21, 51, 353, 360). The Newberys, Gold 
smith's special publishers, were vendors of this medicine (see on 
6. 17). In spite of Johnson's friendship with Dr. James, he did 
not think highly of his ' compounded medicines ' (B. 662). 

16. 18. real physicians. A Dr. Hawes was first called. He 
strongly advised Goldsmith against the James' powders, con 
sidering the disease as nervous and not febrile. ' For more than 
half an hour he sat by the bedside urging its probable danger 
and vehemently entreating his difficult patient.' Hawes then 
sent for a Dr. Fordyce for consultation, and he too protested 
against the James' powders, and sent other medicine. Gold 
smith, however, refused to receive this medicine when it arrived, 
and sent the messenger to Hawes for a packet of his favourite 
powders. When this arrived lie took some, and then declared it 
was not the right kind, and sent to Newbery's for the genuine 
article, of which he took several doses. The next evening Hawes 


found Goldsmith much worse, and very weak. ' He sighed 
deeply,' reported Hawes, ' and in a very low voice said he 
wished he had followed my advice. ' A day or so afterwards a 
third doctor, Turton, was called in. Goldsmith lingered for a 
week longer. On Sunday, April 3rd, a favourable crisis seems 
to have arrived. He fell into a quiet slumber. But about four 
o'clock on the Monday morning, April 4th (not 3rd, as Macaulay 
has it), he woke in strong convulsions, and died about an hour 

16. 25. the 3rd of April. This is one of Macaulay's rather 
frequent little inaccuracies. See last note. All the other 
biographers, if I am not mistaken, give 4th April, which is the 
date given on the tablets in Westminster Abbey and the Temple 
vestry chamber. A blunder is also made in the chronological 
table given in the edition of Forster's Goldsmith published by 
Hutchinson, where it is stated that Goldsmith was 44 years old 
at his death. He was, as Macautay says, 45. He entered his 
46th year in November, 1773. 

16. 27. is now forgotten. In 1837 a marble slab was erected 
in the Temple Church, on which was stated that Goldsmith 
' died in the Temple and was buried in the adjoining church 
yard. ' It was removed to the vestry chamber when the church 
was restored. In 1853 Forster, accompanied by Lord Chief 
Baron Pollock (who had been treasurer of the Temple when the 
slab was erected), made a careful search for Goldsmith's grave, 
but could find no trace. The register of burials merely states 
that 'Oliver Goldsmith, M.B., late of Brick Court, Middle 
Temple,' was buried on April 9th. Since Forster wrote his 
book a flat stone, with Goldsmith's name and dates of his birth 
and death, has been placed in the churchyard, to mark ' approxi 
mately' his grave. In 1864 a statue of Goldsmith by Mr. Foley 
was erected in front of Trinity College, Dublin. 

16. 28. by Burke and Reynolds. This again must be, I think, 
an error. Burke and Reynolds were, according to Washington 
Irving, 'designated pall-bearers,' with the intention of giving 
Goldsmith ' a public funeral and a tomb in Westminster Abbey' ; 
but when it was discovered that he had died so much in debt 
they were deterred by the expense, and decided on a private 
interment, at which ' none of his illustrious friends were present.' 
Also Forster says that Reynolds, Burke, Garrick, and others 
' were to have borne the pall,' but that it was ' felt that a private 
ceremony would better become the circumstances in which he 
had died.' Burke and Reynolds 'directed arrangements,' and 
Dr. Hawes ' saw them carried into effect. ' 

16- 33. a little poem. For the origin of Retaliation see on 
13. 23, and for the poem itself see Globe edition, p. 594. The 

NOTES. 65 

exact chronological sequence of the numerous fictitious epitaphs 
first begun perhaps in January or February, 1774 is not 
quite clear. All the club members seem to have taken a part in 
the sport except Johnson and Burke. Garrick, it seems, was 
not content with his first epitaph (given on 13. 23), but 'returned 
to the charge (even after Goldsmith's death) with a nervous 
desire to re-retaliate' (F.). Goldsmith's Retaliation, as Sir 
Walter Scott says, ' had the effect of placing the author on a 
more equal footing with his society than he had ever before 
assumed.' Its effect was all the greater because of the strong 
self-control that it showed. ' Without anger, the satire is 
finished, keen, and uncompromising ; the wit is adorned by 
most discriminating praise, and the truth is all the more merci 
less for exquisite good manners and good taste ' (F.). Retaliation 
had doubtless the effect described by Sir Walter Scott, but it 
was for only a short time, seeing that Goldsmith died before he 
had finished it. Manuscript copies of various passages, especially 
of one containing the character of Garrick, were handed about 
probably before Goldsmith left for Edgeware (see on 16. 7), 
where he evidently revised and added to the series of portraits. 
The unfinished line with which the following description of Sir 
Joshua ends is perhaps the last thing certainly the last verse 
w-hich he wrote : 
' Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind, 

He has not left a wiser or better behind. 

His pencil was striking, resistless, and grand : 

His manners were gentle, complying, and bland ; 

Still born to improve us in every part, 

His pencil our faces, his manners our heart. 

To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering ; 

When they judged without skill, he was still hard of hearing ; 

When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff, 

He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff. 

By flattery unspoiled ...' 

The portraits of Edmund Burke, of Garrick, and of Reynolds 
are alone of much interest. Johnson kept aloof from the fray. 

17. 15. cenotaph. Not quite the right word, for it gives one 
the notion of an empty tomb, whereas here there is no tomb or 
anything else that could be empty or full. The monument con 
sists of a tablet with a portrait in relief and an inscription. It 
was erected in 1776. The spot was chosen by Sir Joshua 
Reynolds. It was ' the area of a pointed arch over the south 
door in Poets' Corner, between the monuments of Gay and the 
Duke of Argyll' (F.). 

17 15. Nollekens (1737-1823), the sculptor, was son of the 
painter 'old Nollekens,' a native of Antwerp. He was born in 
London, studied under the sculptor Sheemakers, and from 1760 



to 1770 worked in Rome, where he gained a prize for his bas- 
relief of Alexander and Timoclea. Garrick and Sterne were 
'among the first English visitors who sat to him for their busts.' 
In 1771, soon after his return to England, he was elected an 
Associate, and later a member, of the Royal Academy. He was 
patronized by George III. , and soon became the most fashionable 
portrait-sculptor in England. His busts of Johnson, Pitt, Fox, 
George III., George IV., and Canning were especially admired. 
He also attempted imaginative statues and groups, the best of 
which (Bacchus, Juno, Venus anointing herself, Cupid and 
Psyche) show excellence in workmanship, but are deficient in 
conception. Nollekens was always notorious for his great 
parsimony. As an old man he became a confirmed miser. He 
is said to have left a fortune of 200,000. 

17. 16. Johnson wrote the inscription. It will be found on 
B. 384, and on the next page is a copy (Dr. Hill gives a repro 
duction of the original document) of the celebrated Round Robin, 
with a facsimile of the signatures of Edmund Burke, Gibbon, 
Joshua Reynolds, Sheridan, and the other members of the Club 
who ventured to ' humbly ' suggest in this form all thus sharing 
the danger equally that Goldsmith's character was perhaps not 
' delineated with all the exactness which Dr. Johnson is capable 
of giving it,' and also that 'the memory of so eminent an English 
writer ' ought to be perpetuated in English. This Round Robin 
was composed by Burke, and was carried to Dr. Johnson by Sir 
Joshua. Johnson ' received it with much good humour,' but 
was inexorable. He said ' he would never consent to disgrace 
the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English inscription, 
and that he wondered that Warton, a scholar by profession, 
should have been ' such a fool ' as to sign. (Langton, ' like a 
sturdy scholar,' says Boswell, refused to do so. By the way, 
when in Scotland the year before Goldsmith's death, Johnson 
declared that an English epitaph would be a disgrace to Smollett, 
who had died in Italy in 1771.) 

For the date of Goldsmith's birth as given on the Abbey tablet 
see on 1. 13 ; and for the description of Goldsmith as an historian 
and natural philosopher no less than a poet see on 12. 32. 
Johnson also wrote a Greek epitaph on Goldsmith in two 
couplets. This may be found, with a bad translation by Croker, 
in B. 277. 

17- 17. that Johnson did not leave. The reason is given by 
Bishop Percy and by Malone. ' The poems of Goldsmith (whose 
life I know he intended to write, for I collected some materials 
for it by his desire) were omitted' i.e. from the Lives of the 
Poets ' in consequence of a petty exclusive interest in some of 
them (She Stoops to Conquer being one) vested in Mr. Carnan, a 
bookseller ' (B. 397 n). Dr. Hill, however, thinks Johnson 

NOTES. 67 

meant to write a separate work, and not an addition to the 
Lives. The question of copyright had a good deal to do with 
the list, which extended from Cowley to Lyttleton, including 
fifty-three verse-writers, among whom there are only two or 
three really great poets, a fair sprinkling of clever writers, such 
as Pope, Addison, and Swift, and a large number of now utterly 
forgotten poetasters. 

17. 24. great powers ... with great weaknesses. Compare 
Johnson's words, given on 16. 5 : ' But let not his frailties be 
remembered : he was a very great man.' 

17. 27. Lyttleton, George, b. 1709, was secretary to Frederick, 
Prince of Wales, when he was at feud with George II. He 
became a Lord of the Treasury and Lord Chancellor (1757), and 
was raised to the peerage. His Letters from a Persian in 
England to his friend in Ispahan (1735) probably suggested 
Goldsmith's Chinese Letters. His Dialogues of the Dead and 
History of Henry II. (over which he spent thirty years) are his 
chief works. 

It was he, says Dr. Hill, and not Johnson, as Boswell thought, 
that was called a ' respectable Hottentot ' by Lord Chesterfield 
(see B. 85 and 89). As Boswell informs us (B. 548), 'in the 
Life of Lyttleton Johnson seems to have been not favourably 
disposed towards that nobleman,' and, following in Boswell's 
wake, Dr. Hill launches into the question whether it was the 
preference of Molly Aston or Miss Boothby for Lord Lyttleton 
which made Johnson jealous at which Matthew Arnold, in his 
Introduction to Six of Johnson's Lives, with good reason asks : 
' What can it matter ? ' 

17. 32.- Mr. Prior, afterwards Sir James Prior, was in early 
life a navy surgeon. He was born in 1790. In 1824 he wrote a 
Life of Burke. His Life of Goldsmith appeared in 1837. It is 
an extensive and careful compilation from earlier biographers, 
such as Bishop Percy, Malone, Campbell, and other contributors 
to the Life prefixed to early editions of Goldsmith's works. 
Prior died in 1867. 

17. 32. Washington Irving (1783-1859), the well-known Ameri 
can writer, author of The Sketch Book (Rip Van Winkle, etc.), 
Life of Mahomet, Conquest of Granada, etc., wrote and published 
the first sketch of his Life of Goldsmith as an introduction to a 
selection from Goldsmith's works. This appeared several years 
before Forster's book. The facts had been collected from various 
sources, but chiefly from the 'voluminous work of Mr. Prior.' 
This sketch he wished to revise and republish. But when 
Forster's book appeared (1848), it incited his spirit of emula 
tion, and caused him to recast and amplify his memoir so as to 
make it worthier of his favourite author. Irving is sometimes 
called ' the American Goldsmith.' 


17- 33. Forster, John, the son of a Newcastle cattle-dealer, 
was born in 1812. While yet a lad at school he wrote stories 
and plays, one of which was acted (1828) in the Newcastle 
theatre. He was sent to Cambridge, but after one month's trial 
of the University he left it and studied law in London. His 
acquaintance with Leigh Hunt and Charles Lamb gave him a 
good start in literary work. He wrote a series of Lives of 
Statesmen for a Cyclopaedia. Then he was editor of the Daily 
News and the Examiner, and became intimate with many of the 
foremost literary men of the day, such as Browning and Dickens. 
In 1848 he published his Life and Adventures of Oliver Gold 
smith, with illustrations by Maclise, Stanfield, Leech, and Doyle. 
In 1854 he re-published it in two volumes under the title : Life 
and Times of Oliver Goldsmith. Probably on account of Carlyle's 
criticism, that the central figure had now become too much 
hidden by its surroundings, he brought out in the next year 
(1855) an abridged version in one volume. Forster wrote the 
Life of Dickens (1872-4), and began a Life of Sivift, which, how 
ever, he did not live to finish. He died in 1876. He possessed 
most of the MSS. of Dickens' novels, which, together with some 
18,000 valuable books, he bequeathed to the nation. They are 
to be seen at the S. Kensington Museum. His Life of Goldsmith 
is doubtless an accurate and useful compilation, but in tone and 
style I hold it to be on a much lower level than Washington 
Irving's book. It seems to me to have no artistic structure, and 
the language is often banal and slipshod, and often again inflated 
and hysterical. For his sentiments as to the spiritual responsi 
bilities of Christianity in regard to the payment of milk-scores 
see on 15. 12. 


1728. Born, Nov. 10th, at Pallas, Ireland. 

1730. His father obtains the living of Kilkenny West, and 
settles at Lissoy. 

1731-3. Goldsmith taught by Elizabeth Delap. 

1734. Taught by Paddy Bryne. 

1735. Has the small-pox. 

1736. At Mr. Griffin's school, Elphin. 
1739-41. At Mr. Campbell's school, Athlone. 
1741-44. At Mr. Hughes' school, Edgworthstown. 

1744 (June llth). Enters Trinity College, Dublin, as Sizar. 

1747. His father dies. Goldsmith takes part in riots at College. 
He gains a prize, holds festivity, is brutally treated oy 
Wilder, runs away, and is brought back by Henry. 

1749 (Feb. 27th). Takes B.A. degree. 

1749-52. Three years of idleness at Ballymahon and Lissoy and 

1751. Rejected as candidate for ordination. Goes off to Cork. 

Intention of emigrating to America frustrated. 

1752. Starts for London to study law. Loses all his money in 

Dublin gaming-house, and returns. 

1752 (Autumn). To Edinburgh, where he studies medicine, more 
or less, for about 18 months. 

1754 (February). Starts for the Continent. Imprisoned (?) at 
Newcastle. Arrives at Leydeu. 


1755 (Early spring). Leaves Leyden. Wanders through Hol 

land and Belgium. At Louvain perhaps takes medical 
degree (M.B.). 

1755. At Paris. On the Loire. In Germany (?). In Switzer 

land. To Padua, where he possibly may have spent 
some time and have taken a doctor's degree. (But see 
on 5. 18.) 

1756 (Feb. 1). Lands at Dover. 

1756. In London. Assistant to chemist. Tries to practise as 

doctor. Proof-reader to Samuel Richardson. In autumn 
enters as usher at Dr. Milner's school, Peckham. 

1757 (April- Sept.). Does hack-work for Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths 

(Monthly Review). Quarrels and leaves them. Is in 
great want. Is visited by his younger brother Charles. 

1758. Applies to Dr. Milner and is given temporary charge of 

the school. In prospect of Indian medical appointment 
returns to London. Tries to raise money for outfit. 
Takes room in Green Arbour Court, Breakneck Steps. 
Writes for both Monthly and Critical. The Indian ap 
pointment lost (Nov.). Applies for post as hospital 
mate. Rejected at Surgeons' Hall (Dec.). 

1759. A struggle for existence as bookseller's hack. Dr. 

Percy's visit. Inquiry into the Present State of Polite 
Learning published (March). The See (Oct. Nov.). 
Visited by Smollett and Newbery. Contributes to British 

1760. Chinese Letters (Citizen of the World) appear in Public 

Ledger. Edits Ladies' Magazine, and inserts his Memoirs 
of Voltaire. Moves to the Temple, Wine Office Court. 

1761. Makes Johnson's acquaintance (May 31). Foregathers 

with some of Johnson's circle at the shop of Tom Davies. 
Meets Boswell (who is as yet unacquainted with John- 

1762. Publishes Chinese Letters in book form (May), and Life of 

Richard Nash (Oct. ). Third shares in the Vicar of Wake- 
field (probably still unfinished) sold to Collins, Strahan, 
& Newbery (Oct. 28). In winter to Islington (Mrs. 

1763. At Islington. Works at his History. Intimacy with 

Hogarth. ' The Club ' founded (or in next spring). 

1764. Lodges at Islington, but keeps rooms at Wine Court, 

Temple. Publishes History of England in a Series of 
Letters (June). Johnson saves Goldsmith from the bailiff 
by getting 20 (or 60) guineas advanced on the Vicar. 
The. Traveller published (Dec.). 


1765. Miscellaneous Essays (dated 1758-65). Edwin and Angelina. 

Attempts to practise as doctor. Takes better rooms in 
Temple, Garden Court. 

1766. Publishes Vicar of Wakefidd. 

1767. For summer at Canoubury Tower, Islington. Works at 

Roman History. On return to Garden Court is visited 
by Parson Scott. John Newbery dies. 

1768. The Good-natured Man at Covent Garden Theatre (Jan. 

29). Buys lease of apartment in Brick Court, Temple. 
His brother Henry dies (May). In summer at ' Shoe 
maker's Paradise,' a cottage at Edgeware. Royal 
Academy founded. Goldsmith elected Professor of 
Ancient History. 

1769. Undertakes to write Natural History (Feb.). Publishes 

Roman History (May). Gets to know the Hornecks. 

1770. Publishes The Deserted Village (May). Visits Paris with 

the Hornecks. Life of Parnell, and Life of Bolingbroke. 
His mother dies (Sept.). Spends the Christmas at Gos- 
forth with Lord Clare. 

1771. Writes the Haunch of Venison (published 1776). At Royal 

Academy dinner (April). In summer again at Edge- 
ware, where Boswell visits his lodging. Publishes His 
tory of England (Aug.). Spends Christmas with the 
Bunburys and Hornecks at Barton. 

1772. Abridgment of Roman History. At Edgeware works at 

Natural History and his new play. 

1773. She Stoops to Conquer at Covent Garden (March 15). 

Works at Grecian History. Plans an Universal Dic 
tionary, but gives it up. Spends Christmas again with 
Bunburys and Jessamy Bride at Barton. 

1774. On account of increasing ill-health intends to sell lease of 

his Temple rooms. In March is at Edgeware, where he 
works at Natural History and Grecian History, and writes 
most of Retaliation (all published after his death). Re 
turns to London. Dies on April 4th. 



1800. Thomas Babington, son of Zachary Macaulay and Elisabeth 
(nee Selina Mills), born, Oct. 25th, at the Manor House, 
Rothley Temple, near Leicester, the residence of his uncle, 
Mr. Babington. 

1812. Sent to private school at Little Shelford, near Cambridge. 
The school removed in 1814 to Aspenden Hall, near Bunting- 
ford. He remains under charge of Mr. Preston, the head 
master, until 1818. About 1816 was his first appearance in 
print an anonymous letter sent to his father's Christian 
Observer, in which he scandalised the readers of that journal 
by eulogising Fielding and Smollett. 

1818. Goes into residence at Trinity College, Cambridge. 

1821-3. Gains a Craven Scholarship, Prize for Latin Declamation, and 
two Chancellor's medals for English verse. Is ' plucked ' for 
the Mathematical Tripos, and thus prevented from competing 
for the Chancellor's medals for Classics then the highest 
test of scholarship. 

1823-4. Writes for Charles Knight's Quarterly Magazine : two battle- 
pieces in verse, Ivry and Naseby ; the Conversation between 
'Cowley and Milton; Criticisms on Italian writers (Dante, 
Petrarch), etc. 

1824. His father fails in business. Macaulay takes pupils and deter 

mines to retrieve the loss, and to help his brothers and sisters. 
Elected Fellow of Trinity College. Is asked to write for the 
Edinburgh Review (founded 1802). Makes his first public 
speech before an Anti-slavery Meeting. 

1825. His Essay on Milton excites a sensation in literary circles. 

1826. Called to the bar, and joins the Northern circuit, but with no 

serious intention of adopting the law as his profession. 

1827. Essay on Machiavetti. 

1828. Is made a Commissioner of Bankruptcy under "Wellington's 

administration 'a rare piece of luck' considering Macaulay's 
extreme anti-Toryism. He longs to be in Parliament, 'his 
heart and soul being filled ' by the Repeal of the Test Act, 
the Emancipation of the Catholics, and other such questions. 
Essays on Hallam's Const. Hist, and Dryden. 

1829. Essays on James Mill. The Catholic Emancipation Bill is pro 
posed by the Duke, and becomes law. 


1830. Offered by Lord Lansdowne a seat for the borough of Calne. 

Maiden speech in Parliament on Jewish Disabilities. Visits 
Paris. Essay on Montgomery 1 's Poems. 

1831. Invited to stand for Leeds. Essays on BoswtU's Johnson and 


1832. Speeches on the Reform Bill. Elected a Commissioner and 

then Secretary of the Board of Control. Member for Leeds 
in the Reformed Parliament. 

1833. Essay on Horace Walpole. Elected Member of the Supreme 

Council of India. 

1834. First Essay on Chatham. Arrives in India, with his sister 

Hannah, who soon after marries Mr. Trevelyan. 

1835. President of Committee of Public Education (India). Essay on 

Mackintosh's Revolution. 

1837. As President of Law Comuiission, drafts Penal Code. Papers 

on Education, Press, etc., and indefatigable study, especially 
of the Classics. Essay on Bacon. 

1838. Returns to England. Essay on Temple. Plots his History. 

Tour in Italy. At Rome has the offer from Lord Melbourne 
of the Judge- Ad vocateship, which he declines. 

1839. In London. Essay on Gladstone. M.P. for Edinburgh and 

Secretary of War. 

1840 Essays on Clive and von Ranke. Settles in the ' Albany. ' 

1841-2. Essays on Warren Hastings and Frederic the Great. On dis 
solution of Parliament re-elected for Edinburgh. Lays of 
Ancient Rome. 

1843. Essays republished. Essay on Addison. Trip to the Loire. 

1844. In Holland. Second Essay on Chatham. 

1846. Paymaster-General of the Army. Re-elected as Member for 


1847. Parliament again dissolved. Macaulay defeated at Edinburgh, 
. and retires into private life, devoting himself to his History. 

1848. Elected Lord Rector of Glasgow University. First two volumes 

of History published. 

1852. Re-elected for Edinburgh. Serious illness. Visit to Edinburgh. 
Speaks his last words in the House of Commons. 

1854. Draws up Report on Competitive Examinations. Resides in 
cottage at Ditton Marsh. D.O.L. Oxford. [During later 
years was member of Academies of Munich, Turin, and 
Utrecht ; received Orders of Merit etc. ; was President of 
various Philosophical and other Institutions, Trustee of 
British Museum, Professor of Ancient Literature to the Royal 
Academy etc. etc.] 


1855. Third and fourth volumes of History published the 'whole 

weight of the edition is 56 tons. ' 

1856. Failing health. Resigns his seat for Edinburgh. Settles at 

Holly Lodge, Campden Hill, where he has his ' little paradise 
of shrubs and turf.' 

1855-8. Biographies of Johnson, Goldsmith, Bunyan, Atterbury, and 
Pitt in the Encycl. Brit. 

1857. High Steward of the Borough of Cambridge. Created Baron 

Macaulay of Rothley. 

1859. Visits English Lakes and Scotland. Seriously ill towards end 
of year. On Dec. 28, 'musters strength to dictate a letter 
to a poor curate enclosing twenty-five pounds,' and a few 
hours later dies. 


The numbers refer to the pages of the book. 

Academy, Royal, 38. 
Addison, 58. 
Albinus, 28. 
Animated Nature, 53. 
apothecary, Goldsmith works 

for, 32. 
Aristotle, 46. 
Auburn, 50. 
Axe Lane, 32. 


Baldearg, 21. 
Ballymahon, 19, 20. 
banshee, 21. 
Bayes, 48. 
Beatty, 26. 
Beauclerk, 56. 
Bensley, 45. 
Black, Mr., 61, etc. 
Boswell, 38, etc. 
Breakneck Steps, 35. 
Bryanton, 26. 
Buckingham, 48. 
Buffon, 53. 
bulks, 55. 
Bunburys, 47, 63. 
Burke, 38, 64. 
Bute, Lord, 37. 
Butler, 48. 


Byrne, 20. 

Byron, Captain, 54. 

Carnan, 66. 

Carolan, 22. 

Catholics, Irish, 22. 

cenotaph, 65. 

Chamier, 41. 

Chesterfield, Lord, 36. 

Chinese Letters, 24, 37. 

Cibber, 42, 57. 

Clive, 62. 

clothes, Goldsmith's love for 

gay, 27. 
Club, the, 38. 
College, date of Goldsmith's 

entry, 19, 23. 
Colman, 44, 50, 52. 
Contarine, Rev. T., 23, 28, etc. 
Cooke, William, 55. 
cow, sheds its horns, 53. 
Critical Review, 33. 
Croker, 40, etc. 
Cumberland, 51. 


Davies, 38, 52. 
Dean Goldsmith, 28. 
Delap, 20. 



Democritus, 49. 

Deserted Village, 47-50. 

Diderot, 31. 

doctor, Goldsmith practises as, 

42, 63. 

doctor's degree, 31, 42, 63. 
Dodsley, 35. 

Dowden, Prof. 50, 61, etc. 
Dryden, 48. 
Dunciad, 42. 
Dunclas, Sir L., 62. 


Elphin, 18, 23. 

envy, Goldsmith accused of, 


Epicurus, 50. 
epitaph, Goldsmith's, 66. 
equiuoxes, 54. 

False Delicacy, 45. 

Farr, Dr., 32. 

Fleming, Mrs., 39. 

Flinn, 27. 

Fontenelle, 31. 

Forster, John, 68. 

Frederick the Great, 30, 55. 

G . 

gambling, 62. 
Garrick, 38, 44, 64, etc. 
Geneva, Goldsmith at, 29. 
Germany was Goldsmith in? 


Gibbon, 53. 
Goethe, 43, 48. 
Goldsmith, Oliver : see Chron. 


Goldsmith : the family, 19. 
Good-natured Man, 44-46. 
Gray, 42, 48. 
Green, Rev., 19. 
Griffin, Rev. , 23. 
Griffin, publisher, 43, 53. 
Griffiths, 33. 


Hawes, Dr., 62. 

Hawkins, 38. 

Hill, Dr., 66, 67, etc. 

historian, Goldsmith as, 55. 

History of England, 52. 

History of Greece, 53. 

History of Rome, 52. 

Hodson, 20. 

Hogan, 21. 

Hogan, Captain, 50. 

Hogarth, 36. 

Horneck family, 47, 52. 

' Hottentot, a respectable,' 67. 

Hughes, Rev., 23. 

Hume, 58. 

Inny, river, 18, 19. 
Inquiry, Goldsmith's, 35. 
Irving, Washington, 67. 
Italy, Goldsmith in, 29, 31, 32. 

James' powder, 35, 63. 
' Jessamy Bride,' 47, 52. 
Johnson, 33, 37, 39, etc. 
Jones, Anne, 18. 
Jones, Rev. Oliver, 18. 


Kelly, 45, 51. 
Kenrick, 52. 
Kilkenny West, 19. 
Knowle, 23. 

Langton, 32. 

Leghorn, 30. 

Leasing, 50. 

Leyden, 28. 

Lissoy, 19, 26, etc. 

Literary Magazine, 35. 

Lives of the Poets, Johnson's, 

lodgings, Goldsmith's, 39. 



Loire, 29. 

Louvain, Goldsmith at, 29. 

Lucretius, 49. 

luxury, Goldsmith's theory 

about, 48. 
Lyttleton, Lord, 36, 67. 



Macaulay : see Introd. 
Chron. Summary. 

Malone, 66, etc. 

mathematics, Goldsmith's opi 
nion of, 24. 

Maupertius, 54. 

Milner, Dr., 32-34. 

Monjuich, 21. 

Montezuma, 53. 

Monthly Review, 33. 

Moser, 57. 


Nash, Beau, 36. 
Natural History, 53. 
Newbery, Francis, 40. 
Newbery, John, 35. 
Newcastle, Goldsmith at, 28. 
'Noll, '58. 
Nollekens, 65. 


Osborne, 52. 

Padua, Goldsmith at, 31, 63. 
Pallas, 18. 

Paris, Goldsmith at, 28, 30. 
Patagonian giants, 54. 
Percy, Bishop, 37. 
Peterborough, 21. 
Philosophic Vagabond, 29, 31, 


Piozzi, Mrs., 39. 
Pope, 42, 58. 
Porus, 53. 
Prior, 67. 


rapparee, 21. 
' rebellions, happy,' 23. 
Rehearsal, The, 48. 
Retaliation, 59, 64. 
Reynolds, Sir J., 23, 32, 38, etc. 
description of , by Goldsmith, 


Reynolds, Miss, 41. 
Richardson, Samuel, 32. 
Rousseau, 58, 59. 


Sassenach (Saxon), 18. 
Scarsfield, 21. 
She Stoops to Conquer, 47, 50, 


Sizar, 24. 
Sleigh, Dr., 32. 
Smith, Adam, 49. 
Smollett, 66. 
Socrates, 50. 
Steevens, 60. 
Surgeons' Hall, 34. 

Terence, 46. 
Thrale, Mrs., 39, 40. 
Traveller, The, 41. 

usher, Goldsmith as, 33-35. 

Vicar of Walcefield, 40-44. 
Voltaire, 30, 55. 


Walpole, Horace, 51, 54, 58. 
Walsh, 40. 
Warton, 66. 
Wilder, 24, 25. 
William III., 22. 

Young, the poet, 32, 42. 



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Macaulay, Thomas Ba bint on, Ba: 
Oliver Gcjdsraith