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A DANCE INTERRUPTED. 35 within a month afterward, one of the minor prizes of the college. It is true it was one of the very smallest, amounting in pecuniary value 'to but thirty shillings, but it was the first distinction he had gained in his whole collegiate career. This turn of success and sudden influx of wealth proved too much for the head of our poor student. He forthwith gave a supper and dance at his chamber to a number of young persons of both sexes from the city, in direct violation of college rules. The unwonted sound of the fiddle reached the ears of the implacable Wilder. He rushed to the scene of unhallowed festivity, inflicted corporal punishment on the “ father of the feast,” and turned his astonished guests neck and heels out-of-doors.
This filled the measure of poor Goldsmith's humiliations; he felt degraded both within college and without. He dreaded the ridicule of his fellowstudents for the ludicrous termination of his orgie, and he was ashamed to meet his city acquaintances after the degrading chastisement received in their presence, and after their own ignominious expulsion. Above all, he felt it impossible to submit any longer to the insulting tyranny of Wilder: he determined, therefore, to leave, not merely the college, but also his native land, and to bury what he conceived to be his irretrievable disgrace in some distant country. He accordingly sold his books and clothes, and sallied forth from the college walls the very next day, intending to embark at Cork for — he scarce knew where — America, or any other part beyond sea. With his usual
heedless imprudence, however, he loitered about Dublin until his finances were reduced to a slil ling; with this amount of specie he set out on his journey.
For three whole days he subsisted on his shilling; when that was spent, he parted with some of the clothes from his back, until, reduced almost to nakedness, he was four-and-twenty hours without food, insomuch that he declared a handful of gray peas, given to him by a girl at a wake, was one of the most delicious repasts he had ever tasted. Hunger, fatigue, and destitution brought down his spirit and calmed his anger. Fain would he have retraced his steps, could he have done so with any salvo for the lingerings of his pride. In his extremity he conveyed to his brother Henry information of his distress, and of the rash project on which he had set out. His affectionate brother hastened to his relief; furnished him with
money and clothes ; soothed his feelings with gentle counsel; prevailed upon him to return to college, and effected an indifferent reconciliation between him and Wilder.
After this irregular sally upon life he remained nearly two years longer at the University, giving proofs of talent in occasional translations from the classics, for one of which he received a premium, awarded only to those who are the first in literary merit. Still he never made much figure at college, his natural disinclination to study being increased by the harsh treatment he continued to experience from his tutor.
Among the anecdotes told of him while at col.
FINAL LEAVE OF THE UNIVERSITY.
lege is one indicative of that prompt but thoughtless and often whimsical benevolence which throughout life formed one of the most eccentric, yet endearing points of his character.
He was engaged to breakfast one day with a college intimate, but failed to make his appearance.
His friend repaired to his room, knocked at the door and was bidden to enter. To his surprise, he found Goldsmith in his bed, immersed to his chin in feathers. A serio-comic story explained the circumstance. In the course of the preceding evening's stroll he had met with a woman with five children, who implored his charity. Her husband was in the hospital ; she was just from the country, a stranger, and destitute, without food or shelter for her helpless offspring. This was too much for the kind heart of Goldsmith. He was almost as poor as herself, it is true, and had no money in his pocket; but he brought her to the college-gate, gave her the blankets from his bed to cover her little brood, and part of his clothes for her to sell and purchase food; and, finding himself cold during the night, had cut open his bed and buried himself among the feathers.
At length, on the 27th of February, 1749, 0. S., he was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and took his final leave of the University. He was freed from college rule, that emancipation so ardently coveted by the thoughtless student, and which too generally launches him amid tho cares, the hardships, and vicissitudes of life. He was freed, too, from the brutal tyranny of Wilder. If his kind and placable nature could retain any
resentment for past injuries, it might have been gratified by learning subsequently that the passionate career of Wilder was terminated by a violent death in the course of a dissolute brawl; but Goldsmith took no delight in the misfortunes even of his enemies.
He now returned to his friends, no longer the student to sport away the happy interval of vacation, but the anxious man, who is henceforth to shift for himself and make his way through the world. In fact, he had no legitimate home to return to. At the death of his father, the paternal house at Lissoy, in which Goldsmith had passed his childhood, had been taken by Mr. Hodson, who had married his sister Catherine. His mother had removed to Ballymahon, where she occupied a small house, and had to practise the severest frugality. His elder brother Henry served the curacy and taught the school of his late father's parish, and lived in narrow circumstances at Goldsmith's birthplace, the old goblinhouse at Pallas.
None of his relatives were in circumstances to aid him with anything more than a temporary home, and the aspect of every one seemed somewhat changed. In fact, his career at college had disappointed his friends, and they began to doubt his being the great genius they had fancied him. He whimsically alludes to this circumstance in that piece of autobiography, “ The Man in Black," in the “ Citizen of the World.”
“ The first opportunity my father had of find. ing his expectations disappointed was in the midPREPARATION FOR HOLY ORDERS.
dling. figure I made at the University: he had flattered himself that he should soon see me rising into the foremost rank in literary reputation, but was mortified to find me utterly unnoticed and unknown. His disappointment 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 unsatisfied, were more eager after new objects than desirous of reasoning upon those I knew. This, however, did not please my tụtors, who observed, indeed, that I was a little dull, but at the same time allowed that I seemed to be very good natured, and had no harm in me.” *
The only one of his relatives who did not appear to lose faith in him was his uncle Contarine. This kind and considerate man, it is said, saw in him a warmth of heart requiring some skill to direct, and a latent genius that wanted time to mature ; and these impressions none of his subsequent follies and irregularities wholly obliterated. His purse and affection, therefore, as well as his house, were now open to him, and he became his chief counsellor and director after his father's death. He urged him to prepare for holy orders; and others of his relatives concurred in the advice. Goldsmith had a settled repugnance to a clerical life. This has been ascribed by some to conscientious scruples, not considering himself of a temper and frame of mind for such a sacred office; others attributed it to his roving propensities, and his desire to visit foreign countries; he himself
* Citizen of the World, letter xxvii.