peril when his companion, who drove a gig, happened to indulge too freely in the pleasures of the table. There is a letter still extant, written by the Poet to this gentleman some time subsequently, in reply to a letter of invitation to visit him in the Isle of Wight, in which there is allusion to one of their escapes. It commences with acknowledgments to Bott, to whom he was under frequent pecuniary obligations, for assistance rendered in a moment of difficulty, as he could now sit down in his chambers in safety without the terrors of arrest hanging momentarily over his head ; and proceeds to recall a scene they had experienced together in driving at night down the Edgeware Road, when his companion having driven against a post to the imminent danger of their necks, sturdily maintained that he was in the centre of the road.

An anonymous writer in one of the useful minor publications of the day *, states another of his temporary residences to have been a small wooden cottage, on the north side of the Edgeware Road, about a mile from Paddington, near what is called Kilburn Priory. No authority however is adduced for this statement; nor is it probable, since the cottage seems too small to contain besides the family, an inmate in the character of a lodger. The same account states that here was written “ Animated Nature ;” it is therefore probably confounded with the farm-house at Hyde, of which notice will be taken hereafter.

* Mirror, vol. xix. p. 147.

Among several Irish acquaintance settled in London, was a Mr. Seguin, a mercantile man of some literary tastes, who having taken country lodgings for his family in the vicinity of this residence, frequently visited and was visited by its occupant. A considerable intimacy it appears existed between him and this gentleman, to two of whose children he stood godfather; and from a surviving member of the family in Dublin, a few slight notices of his habits have been gleaned from parental recollection.

While in London, they dined with him on several occasions, in the Temple, and met at different periods Bickerstaffe, Kelly, Dr. Percy, a variety of authors of minor note, and on one occasion Dr. Johnson, who was invited in order to gratify two others of his Irish friends, a Mr. and Mrs. Pollard, of Castle Pollard, who having heard so much of the celebrated moralist, were very desirous to see him before they quitted the English metropolis. Goldsmith was enabled to gratify their curiosity, but impressed a preliminary caution on the strangers present to talk only on such subjects, Irish matters for instance, as they perfectly understood, and above all, when he had begun to talk, not to interrupt him. This was punctually obeyed; Johnson proved to be in good humour, and the day passed off pleasantly. These entertainments he gave in an expensive manner, but was so little disposed personally to what is called high living, that his constant supper, as they had

opportunities of observing, and did not forget to tell in Ireland, was boiled milk.

The impression handed down in this family of his personal demeanour is that he was a very guileless, or as it is phrased in the sister country, an innocent man ; cheerful and playful in society where he was known ; fond of conversation, music, or any amusement going forward. One of the accomplishments on which he prided himself was dancing, but in going through a minuet with Mrs. Seguin, his manner once excited her risibility as well as that of the more juvenile spectators, in an uncontrollable manner, which however was borne by him with great good humour. He amused them with several Irish songs; and one of his chief favourites was the Scotch ballad of Johnny Armstrong. He unbent without reserve to the level of whoever were his companions. In all their youthful diversions, he took such interest as to become rather a leader than merely a participator, and joined in such as were most familiar ; whether blind man's buff, romping, forfeits, or the more trivial games at cards in which by affecting to cheat, or showing an eagerness to win, his companions were always rendered very mirthful and boisterous. With associates of a still more juvenile class, he did not hesitate to exhibit still more familiarity, putting the front of his wig behind, or any other trick calculated to excite their merriment.

Of his attention to children Mr. Colman, whose

[merged small][ocr errors]

memory may have been refreshed by repetitions of the anecdote, as he was very young at the time, tells the following story, which occurred in this year, and about the same period.

“Oliver Goldsmith, several years before my luckless presentation to Johnson, proved how doctors differ.' I was only five years old when Goldsmith took me on his knee, while he was drinking coffee, one evening with my father, and began to play with me; which amiable act I returned with the ingratitude of a peevish brat, by giving him a very smart slap in the face; it must have been a tingler, for I left the marks of my little spiteful paw upon his cheek. This infantile outrage was followed by summary justice, and I was locked up by my indignant father in an adjoining room to undergo solitary imprisonment in the dark.

“Here I began to howl and scream most abominably, which was no bad step towards liberation, since those who were not inclined to pity me, might be likely to set me free, for the purpose of abating a nuisance.

At length a friend appeared to extricate me from jeopardy, and that generous friend was no other than the man I had so wantonly molested, by assault and battery-it was the tender hearted Doctor himself, with a lighted candle in his hand, and a smile upon his countenance, which was still partially red from the effects of my petulance. I sulked and sobbed, and he fondled and soothed,

[ocr errors]

till I began to brighten. Goldsmith who in regard to children was like the village preacher he has so beautifully described, for

• Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distress'd,'

seized the propitious moment of returning good humour, so he put down the candle and began to conjure. He placed three hats which happened to be in the room, upon the carpet, and a shilling under each; the shillings he told me were England, France and Spain. “Hey, presto, cockolorum ! cried the Doctor, and lo! on uncovering the shillings, which had been dispersed, each beneath a separate hat, they were all found congregated under one. I was no politician at the time, and therefore might not have wondered at the sudden revolution which brought England, France and Spain all under one crown ; but as I was also no conjurer, it amazed me beyond mea

Astonishment might have amounted to awe for one who appeared to me gifted with the of performing miracles, if the good-nature of the man, had not obviated my dread of the magician ; but from that time whenever the Doctor came to visit my father,



• I pluck'd his gown, to share the good man's smile,'

a game of romps constantly ensued, and we were always cordial friends, and merry playfellows.

“Our unequal companionship varied somewhat in point of sports, as I grew older, but it did not

« VorigeDoorgaan »