Edited by John Morley
the adult Goldsmith conspicuously lacked. Put a pen into his hand, and shut him up in a room: then he was master of the situation--nothing could be more incisive, polished, and easy than his playful sarcasm. But in society any fool could get the better of him by a sudden question followed by a horse-laugh. All through his life--even after he had become one of the most famous of living writers--Goldsmith suffered from want of self-confidence. He was too anxious to please. In his eager acquiescence, he would blunder into any trap that was laid for him. A grain or two of the stolid self-sufficiency of the blockheads who laughed at him would not only have improved his character, but would have considerably added to the happiness of his life.
As a natural consequence of this timidity, Goldsmith, when opportunity served, assumed airs of magnificent importance. Every one knows the story of the mistake on which She Stoops to Conquer is founded. Getting free at last from all the turmoil, and anxieties,