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MISTAKES OF A NIGHT.
the crew of juvenile depredators were captured like Shakspeare and his deer-stealing colleagues ; and nothing but the respectability of Goldsmith's connections saved him from the punishment that would have awaited more plebeian delinquents.
An amusing incident is related as occurring in Goldsmith's last journey homeward from Edgeworthstown. His father's house was about twenty miles distant; the road lay through a rough country, impassable for carriages. Goldsmith procured a horse for the journey, and a friend furnished him with a guinea for travelling expenses. He was but a stripling of sixteen, and being thus suddenly mounted on horseback, with money in his pocket, it is no wonder that his head was turned. He determined to play the man, and to spend his money in independent traveller's style. Accordingly, instead of pushing directly for home, he halted for the night at the little town of Ardagh, and, accosting the first person he met, inquired, with somewhat of a consequential air, for the best house in the place. Unluckily, the person he had accosted was one Kelly, a notorious wag, who · was quartered in the family of one Mr. Featherstone, a gentleman of fortune. Amused with the self-consequence of the stripling, and willing to play off a practical joke at his expense, he directed him to what was literally " the best house in the place," namely, the family mansion of Mr. Featherstone. Goldsmith accordingly rode up to what he supposed to be an inn, ordered his horse to be taken to the stable, walked into the parlor, seated himself by the fire, and demanded what he could have for supper. On ordinary occasions he was diffident and even awkward in his manners, but here he was “ at ease in his inn," and felt called upon to show his manhood and enact the experienced traveller. His person was by no means calculated to play off his pretensions, for he was short and thick, with a pock-marked face, and an air and carriage by no means of a distinguished cast. The owner of the house, however, soon discovered his whimsical mistake, and, being a man of humor, determined to indulge it, especially as he accidentally learned that this intruding guest was the son of an old acquaintance.
Accordingly, Goldsmith was “ fooled to the top of his bent,” and permitted to have full sway throughout the evening. Never was schoolboy more elated. When supper was served, he most condescendingly insisted that the landlord, his wife and daughter should partake, and ordered a bottle of wine to crown the repast and benefit the house. His last flourish was on going to bed, when he gave especial orders to have a hot cake at breakfast. His confusion and dismay, on discovering the next morning that he had been swaggering in this free and easy way in the house of a private gentleman, may be readily conceived. True to his habit of turning the events of his life to literary account, we find this chapter of ludicrous blunders and cross-purposes dramatized many years afterward in his admirable comedy of “She Stoops to Conquer, or the Mistakes of a Night.”
Improvident Marriages in the Goldsmith Family.-- Goldsmith
at the University. — Situation of a Sizer. — Tyranny of Wilder, the Tutor. — Pecuniary Straits. — Street-Ballads. College Riot. Gallows Walsh. - College Prize. – A Dance interrupted.
HILE Oliver was making his way some
what negligently through the schools,
his elder brother Henry was rejoicing his father's heart by his career at the University. He soon distinguished himself at the examinations, and obtained a scholarship in 1743. This is a collegiate distinction which serves as a stepping-stone in any of the learned professions, and which leads to advancement in the University should the individual choose to remain there. His father now trusted that he would push forward for that comfortable provision, a fellowship, and thence to higher dignities and emoluments. Henry, however, had the improvidence or the “unworldliness” of his race: returning to the country during the succeeding vacation, he married for love, relinquished, of course, all his collegiate prospects and advantages, set up a school in his father's neighborhood, and buried his talents and acquirements for the remainder of his life in a curacy of forty pounds a year.
Another matrimonial event occurred not long afterward in the Goldsmith family, to disturb the equanimity of its worthy head. This was the clandestine marriage of his daughter Catherine with a young gentleman of the name of Hodson, who had been confided to the care of her brother Henry to complete his studies.
As the youth was of wealthy parentage, it was thought a lucky match for the Goldsmith family; but the tidings of the event stung the bride's father to the soul. Proud of his integrity, and jealous of that good name which was his chief possession, he saw himself and his family subjected to the degrading suspicion of having abused a trust reposed in them to promote a mercenary match. In the first transports of his feelings, he is said to have uttered a wish that his daughter might never have a child to bring like shame and sorrow on her head. The hasty wish, so contrary to the usual benignity of the man, was recalled and repented of almost as soon as uttered ; but it was considered baleful in its effects by the superstitious neighborhood ; for, though his daughter bore three children, they all died before her.
A more effectual measure was taken by Mr. Goldsmith to ward off the apprehended imputation, but one which imposed a heavy burden on his family. This was to furnish a marriage portion of four hundred pounds, that his daughter might not be said to have entered her husband's family empty-handed. To raise the sum in cash was impossible ; but he assigned to Mr. Hodson his little farm and the income of his tithes unti! INDIGNITIES OF A “POOR STUDENT."
the inarriage portion should be paid. In the mean time, as his living did not amount to £200 per annum, he had to practise the strictest economy to pay off gradually this heavy tax incurred by his nice sense of honor.
The first of his family to feel the effects of this economy was Oliver. The time had now arrived for him to be sent to the University; and, accordingly, on the 11th June, 1745, when seventeen years of age, he entered Trinity College, Dublin ; but his father was no longer able to place him there as a pensioner, as he had done his eldest son Henry; he was obliged, therefore, to enter him as a sizer, or“ poor scholar.” He was lodged in one of the top rooms adjoining the library of the building, numbered 35, where it is said his name may still be seen, scratched by himself upon a window-frame.
A student of this class is taught and boarded gratuitously, and has to pay but a small sum for his room. It is expected, in return for these advantages, that he will be a diligent student, and render himself useful in a variety of ways. In Trinity College, at the time of Goldsmith's admission, several derogatory, and, indeed, menial offices were exacted from the sizer, as if the college sought to indemnify itself for conferring benefits by inflicting indignities. He was obliged to sweep part of the courts in the morning ; to carry up the dishes from the kitchen to the fellows table, and to wait in the hall until that body had dined. His very dress marked the inferiority of the “poor student ” to his happier