In September, he received a large advance of money on the faith of the Natural History being

Is sure a task unpleasing to pursue,
Trackless the maze, uncertain is the clew;
The ruling passion still by all confess'd,
The master key that opes the human breast
Here fails; this darling child of nature's school,
Submits to custom's more resistless rule."

"Should I recount the vast and various train,
Who own but vice or folly's motley reign;
An heedless multitude, a giddy throng,
The theme of satire and the scorn of song;

To scan their wild excesses, or to name

Their crimes, would put the modest muse to shame;
Yet may her power endeavour to controul,
That leading vice which animates the whole.
"While chief among the dissipated train,

Who shall insidious luxury disdain ?
Alas! what refuge can fair virtue find?
The soul corrupt what laws or ties can bind?
Us'd to deceive and tutor'd to beguile,
Death in her charms and ruin in her smile ;
Like some trim harlot who our love demands,
And binds our youth in Philistean bands,-
'Tis she that bids enervate arts arise,
That swells the dome to emulate the skies;
That fills the city and the crowded port,
And bids her thousands to the mart resort.
While meagre want, resistless fiend! invades
The rural seats and hospitable shades;
While the poor peasant the sad change deplores,
In secret pines, or quits his native shores,
Seeks better seats in other climes to gain,
And dares for bread the savage and the main.

"Is not refinement still the source of care,
E'en to the best that breathe the vital air?
E'en learning's self corrupted by her art,
The mind enlarging oft corrupts the heart;

diligently proceeded with, from the publisher with whom the agreement had been made, no less than five volumes being paid for, although from the

How small the gain improvement can bestow,
When taste refin'd but brings refined woe!

"Simplicity! ador'd, celestial maid,

Still at thy shrine my constant vows are paid;
Do thou and Nature still direct my way,
Guides whom I seek and own thy sovereign sway.
Nor let the great, or gay, or rich, despise
The humbler blessings from thy reign that rise;
No joys like thine from pomp or learning springs,
The boast of schoolmen or the pride of kings!

"What if we rove where rigid winter reigns,
O'er Zembla's wastes, or Lapland's dreary plains;
Where luxury has no soft art display'd,
No meretricious lures as yet array'd;

Where no choice stores the steril lands afford,
But just can rear the rein-deer and his lord,-
O'er moss-grown deserts these content to stray,
Those wait in caves the wish'd return of day.
Yet nature feeds them, and alike they prove,
The gracious hand of all sustaining love.

"How sparkles joy in every savage face,
When brightening morn invites them to the chace!
Well may their hearts with purest transports glow,
If few their wants, so small their source of woe;
While wealth's soft sons, a hapless race, remain,
Nurs'd in the lap of ease to many a pain ;
Ev'n in enjoyments pine their hours away,
And of those joys they sought become the prey ;
When for the slothful couch they quit the field,
Where various labours health and comfort yield,
Till life's dull day with many a cloud o'ercast,
Gives but the wish its hated hour were past."

[blocks in formation]

short time elapsed since the agreement, not more than one, or perhaps not even one, was completed. The cause probably arose from being pressed for repayment of the amount of money which he had borrowed (said to be 4007.) to take and furnish his chambers; the acknowledgment to the bookseller is in his own handwriting.*

"Received, September 26th, 1769, of William Griffin the sum of five hundred guineas for the copyright of the first five volumes of my Natural History, as by agreement; and for which I promise an assignment on demand.


"No. 2, Brick Court, Temple."

Griffin, it appears, not being a wealthy man, was enabled to advance the money only by disposing at first of half the property and finally of the whole though as it seems without increase of profit, to another bookseller named Nourse, who eventually became its sole possessor and publisher. The various receipts and agreements connected with this transfer are still extant, and for the information of the reader curious in such matters, one or two of the first and last are subjoined. †

In the collection of William Upcott, Esq.

+"Sept. 23d, 1769. "Received of Mr. Nourse one hundred pounds on account for the Copy Money of his half share of Goldsmith's Natural History. "WM. GRIFFIN.


Toward the end of the preceding year (1768), the Royal Academy had been instituted. "His Majesty," according to a long account of the proceedings which appeared at the time, "ever ready to encourage useful improvements, and always intent upon promoting every branch of polite knowledge, hath been graciously pleased to institute in this metropolis a Royal Academy of Arts, to be under his own immediate patronage, and under the direction of forty artists of the first rank in their several professions."* A list of the official officers of the institution is added to the statement; those which were merely honorary were

"Sept. 26th, 1769. "Received of Mr. Nourse one hundred and sixty-two pounds ten shillings for his share of the five volumes of the CopyMoney for Dr. Goldsmith's Natural History.



"June 22d, 1772.

"Received of Mr. John Nourse fifty pounds on account of the Eighth Volume of Dr. Goldsmith's Natural History.



"June 30th, 1772.

"Received of Mr. John Nourse fifty-five pounds being the last payment for the Eighth Volume of Dr. Goldsmith's History of Animated Nature, and in full for that Work.



These, and a general receipt of this date on the back of the assignment from Griffin, making the property solely that of Nourse, are in the possession of Mr. Upcott.

* Public Advertiser, December 20th, 1768.

added afterwards, and became known from the following announcement in December of this year, 1769.*—“ Dr. Johnson is appointed Professor of Ancient Literature, and Dr. Goldsmith Professor of History to the Royal Academy. These titles are merely honorary, no salary being annexed to them." Both nominations were made through the intervention of Reynolds, and imparted to the Institution which had the honour of reckoning such men among her officers, certainly not less honour than the individuals enjoyed by the appointment; these offices gave the privilege merely of a seat at the occasional meetings, and at the annual dinner of the Academicians.

To this appointment allusion is made in the following letter, written to one of his brothers in the ensuing month. A small legacy had been left him by his good uncle Contarine, whose death would appear to have taken place shortly before; and in disposing of it, we find allusions to his own situation and that of his "shattered family," for whom, being without provision or power himself, he could do nothing. To the original of this letter there was annexed a receipt, showing that 157. had been paid to Maurice Goldsmith for a bequest of the late Rev. Thos. Contarine to Oliver Goldsmith, dated 4th Feb. 1770.

* Public Advertiser, December 22d, 1769.

« VorigeDoorgaan »