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pose. There he lost the whole sum in a gaming-house. A second contribution was raised, and the poet proceeded to Edinburgh, where he continued a year and a half studying medicine. Time will not permit us to follow through all its vicissitudes the life of Goldsmith.
From his progenitors he inherited a thriftless extravagance, a warm heart, and an open hand, and that simple credulit\- in human goodness which unfitted him for a skilful part in the great game of life. He delighted in making others happy, yet he was seldom enough at ease in pecuniary matters to be happy himself; and all his life long, while good-naturedly relieving the necessities of others, he was harassed to death by his own. His unwise benevolence, that often did more credit to his heart than his head, is illustrated by this amusing anecdote : —
A friend had invited the poet to breakfast; the appointed hour had passed, and impatient of delay, he repaired to Goldsmith's apartments and found him still in bed, covered, and apparently half smothered, with scattering, unmanageable feathers. On inquiry, he learned that the poet had met, the evening before, a poor woman with her children, soliciting charity. He has not a crown in his purse, but bidding her await him at the gate, he hastens to his room, strips the covering from his bed, and bestows upon her the blankets and a part of his own clothing to enable her to raise funds for her necessities. In the night he awoke, shivering, and feeling the need of the missing blankets, ripped open the feather-bed and patiently crawled inside the ticking for warmth, whence, well befeathered, he issued, to the infinite amusement of his waiting host.
Difficulty and distress clung to Goldsmith to the last. He lived solely by his pen. His name stood foremost among his cotemporaries, and when at the summit of his fame and popularity, his works brought him in from one thousand to eighteen hundred dollars per annum. Yet his careless generosity, his heedless profusion, and extravagance in dress, combined with the attraction of the gaming-table, kept him continually in debt . He continued to write task-work for the booksellers, till worn out by close application and goaded by pecuniary embarrassment, he was attacked by a painful disease, succeeded by a nervous fever which ended his life at the early age of forty-five.
He died two thousand pounds in debt! "Was ever poet so trusted before?" exclaims Johnson. He was laid in the Temple burying-ground, and a monument erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey, next the grave of Gay, to whom, as has been observed, he bore some resemblance in character, though far surpassing him in genius. "Light lie the turf upon thy breast, gentle, loving, childlike heart; beloved with all thy faults and absurdities, thy thoughtless extravagances and innocent vanities, thy blossom-colored coat, rosy and radiant as thine own imagination. Let thy manly independence, generous benevolence, and enlightened zeal for the happiness and improvement of mankind cover the 'failings that ever' leaned to virtue's side."
"Poor Goldsmith!" says Irving, " shall we not feel for him who felt for all? With all his wealth of genius, the victim of his own fatal imprudence, 'struggling,' as he tells us, 'year after year with indigence and contempt, with all those strong passions that make contempt insupportable,' and iu his hopeless condition requesting a gaol as a favor!"
Goldsmith may be said to belong to the school of Pope in form and in style. He has the same harmony and grace, and is nearly faultless; yet the earnestness and gentle simplicity of the man give to his poetry a tenderness and a natural unstudied excellence which Pope never attained. He is never sublime, seldom insipid or coarse. Johnson, in his epitaph on the poet, has well characterized him: "A ruler of our affections, and mover alike of our laughter and our tears, as gentle as he is prevailing."
In December, 1764, appeared Goldsmith's poem of the "Traveller," which is the chief corner-stone of his fame. Critics have considered it one of the finest poems in the language. His "Deserted Village" is almost equally meritorious, and there is probably no poem in the English language, unless it be Gray's " Elegy," more universally popular. Its best passages—such as the School-master's portraiture, the description of the Ale House, and that picture of the Village Preacher for which the poet's father sat — are familiar to all; yet so perfect are they in outline and beauty of coloring as never to weary by repetition. One might as soon call a rose hackneyed; and indeed we may say of some of Goldsmith's verses that they have the same consummate perfection that Nature has given to her floral masterpiece. Of the "Traveller" it has been affirmed that •'it is without one bad line." This is the Preacher's fine portrait: —
"A man he was to all the country dear,
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
At church, with meek and unaffected grace
Equally perfect is the School-master's picture, in — "... words of learned length, and thundering sound,"
arguing with the parson before the gaping rustics, till—
"... still the wonder grew
By his pen Goldsmith has added vastly to the glory of English literature and given delight to millions. Who that reads the " Vicar of Wakefield" does not bless the Providence that gave him to mankind? The fashion of this world passeth away, but human nature is eternally the same, reproducing in one generation the faults and the virtues of another on and on in endless cycles of being. For nearly a whole century Moses has continued to go to the fair, Mrs. Primrose has innocently prided herself upon her daughters and her gooseberry wine ; poor Olivia, stooping to folly, still claims a pitying tear; and not Rosa Bonheur's quadrupeds shall outlive those gratuitous " sheep" that the obliging artist agreed to "throw in" as abundantly as possible when he undertook the great "family picture."
Goldsmith produced his popular comedy of the " GoodNatured Man" in 1768, and in 1773 "She Stoops to Conquer" was brought out at Covent Garden Theatre "with immense applause." And now, at the summit of his fame, after his toilsome march, weary and worn, he lay down at noontide, and slept the sleep that knows no waking.
By far the greatest of the minor poets belonging to the age of the first two Georges was William Collins, who died at the early age of thirty-eight, nearly all his poetry having been written ten years before his death. The story of his life is brief and mournful. Though but the son of a tradesman, he received a learned education. His genius was great and his learning extensive; and full of high hopes and magnificent schemes, he repaired from Oxford to London.