The Character of Goldsmith
At this time I did not know Oliver Goldsmith even by person; I think our first meeting chanced to be at the British Coffee House; when we came together, we very speedily coalesced, and I believe he forgave me for all the little fame I had got by the success of my West Indian, which had put him to some trouble, for it was not his nature to be unkind, and I had soon an opportunity of convincing him how incapable I was of harbouring resentment, and how zealously I took my share in what concerned his interest and reputation. That he was fantastically and whimsically vain all the world knows, but there was no settled and inherent malice in his heart. He was tenacious to a ridiculous extreme of certain pretensions, that did not, and by nature could not, belong to him, and at the same time inexcusably careless of the fame, which he had powers to command. His table-talk was, as Garrick aptly compared it, like that of a parrot, whilst he wrote like Apollo; he had gleams of eloquence, and at times a majesty of thought, but in general his tongue and his pen had two very different styles of talking. What foibles he had he took no pains to conceal, the good qualities of his heart were too frequently obscured by the carelessness of his conduct, and the frivolity of his manners. Sir Joshua Reynolds was very good to him, and would have drilled him into better trim and order for society, if he would have been amenable, for Reynolds was a perfect gentleman, had good sense, great propriety with all the social attributes, and all the graces of hospitality, equal to any man.
KeywordsLoud Voice Good Humour French Naturalist Great Poet Staggering Proposal
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