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the moment he entered under his own roof; of himself Goldsmith could say no better than that at home or abroad, in crowds or in solitude, he was still carrying on a conflict with unrelenting care.'
But one friend he had that never wholly left him, that in his need came still with comfort. Nature, who smiled upon him in his cradle, in this "garret” of Garden Court had not deserted him. Her school was open to him even here, and, in the crowd and glare of streets, but a step divided him from her cool and calm refreshments. Among his happiest hours were those he passed at his window, looking over into the Temple Gardens. Steam and smoke were not yet so all-prevailing but that, right opposite where he looked, the stately stream which washes the garden-foot might be seen, as though freshly “weaned from her Twickenham Naiades,” flowing gently past. Nor had the benchers thinned the trees in those days; for they were that race
1 Mr. De Quincey appears to think that he differs from me in these views, but the results at which he arrives are substantially the same, though I cannot take so cheerful a view of the general tenor of Goldsmith's life. Mr. De Quincey, however, is well entitled to be heard. “He enjoyed two great immunities from suffering that bave been much overlooked ; and such immunities that, in our opinion, four in five of all the people ever connected with Goldsmith's works, as publishers, printers, compositors (that is, men taken at random), have very probably suffered more, upon the whole, than he. The immunities were these: First, from any bodily taint of low spirits. He had a constitutional gayety of heart, an elastic hilarity, and, as he himself expresses it, 'a knack of hoping' - which knack could not be bought with Ormus and with Ind, nor hired for a day with the peacock throne of Delhi. Another immunity he had of almost equal value, and yet almost equally forgotten by his biographers-viz., from the responsibilities of a family. Wife and children he had not. They it is that, being a man's chief blessings, create also for him the deadliest of his anxieties, that stuff his pillow with thorns, that surround bis daily path with snares. In short, Goldsmith enjoyed the two privileges, one subjective, the other objective, which, when uniting in the same man, would prove more than a match for all difficulties that could arise in a literary career to him who was at once a man of genius so popular, of talents so versatile, of reading so various, and of opportunities so large for still more extended reading. The subjective privilege lay in his buoyancy of animal spirits ; the objective in his freedom from responsibilities.”—De Quincey's Works, vi. 198–200 (Ed. 1857).
of benchers loved of Charles Lamb, who refused to pass in their treasurer's account “twenty shillings to the gardener for stuff to poison the sparrows.” So there he sat, with the noisy life of Fleet Street shut out, and made country music for himself out of the noise of the old Temple rookery." Luther used to moralize the rooks; and Goldsmith had illustrious example for the amusement he now took in their habits, as from time to time he watched them. He saw the rookery, in the winter deserted, or guarded only by some five or six,“ like old soldiers in a garrison,” resume its activity and bustle in the spring; and be moralized, like the great reformer, on the legal constitutions established, the social laws enforced, and the particular castigations endured for the good of the community, by those blackdressed and black-eyed chatterers. “I have often amused myself,” he says, “ with observing their plans of policy from my window in the Temple, that looks upon a grove
1 So far Goldsmith had at least the advantage of Gray, who in one of the most delightful of all his letters, and which, for its whimsical, cordial bumor and quiet gayety, at once contrasts with his pensive, contemplative moods, and yet takes a certain color from them too (just as it is the charm of his wit and satire that you can never divorce them from his manly truth and even kindness of feeling), thus compares Norton Nicholls's country refreshments with his own: PEMBROKE COLLEGE, June 24, 1769. And so you have a garden of your own, and you plant and transplant, and are dirty and amused! Are not you ashamed of yourself? Why, I have no such thing, you monster, nor ever shall be either dirty or amused as long as I live. My gardens are in the windows, like those of a lodger up three pair of stairs in Petticoat Lane or Camomile Street, and they go to bed regularly under the same roof that I do. Dear, how charming it must be to walk out in one's own garding, and sit on a bench in the open air, with a fountain and leaden statue, and a rolling stone, and an arbor: have a care of sore throats, though, and the agoe.” See the entire letter in the Works, iv. 133-134. The reader who is curious in such things will find that the so-called correct version printed by Mr. Mitford from Dawson Turner's MS. (v. 91–92), is altogether inferior to this, as printed by Mason. Yet Mason was in this respect a monstrous offender too, as any one may see who refers to an admirable paper in the Quarterly Review (xciv. 1-4), where his villanous habit of adulterating, by way of improving, his friend's letters, is thoroughly exposed. Uppardonable in any case, it was particularly atrocious in that of Gray, who is of all writers the most choice and fastidious in even his most familiar diction.
where they have made a colony in the midst of the city.” Nor will we doubt that also from this wall-girt grove came many a thought that carried him back to childhood, made him free of solitudes explored in boyish days, and repeopled deserted villages. It was better than watching the spiders amid the dirt of Green Arbor Court; for though his grove was city planted, and scant of the foliage of the forest, there was Fancy to piece out for him, transcending these, far other groves and other trees,
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade. Let us leave him to this happiness for a time before we pass to the few short years of labor, enjoyment, and sorrow, in which his mortal existence closed.
1 Animated Nature, iv. 178–179.
END OF BOOK THE THIRD
BOOK THE FOURTH
GOLDSMITH, THE FRIEND OF JOHNSON, BURKE, AND REYNOLDS :
DRAMATIST, NOVELIST, AND POET
1767 to 1774