that he at length wrote to Dr. Radcliffe, to thank him for not answering the schoolmaster's letter, and to fulfil his promise of giving the history of the whole transaction. It contained a comical narrative of his adventures from his leaving Ireland to that time.” It is to be regretted that accident has since destroyed this narrative, which the gentleman to whom it was written, admired more than any part of our author's works.

But although Dr. Goldsmith had escaped from Scotland into England, he could not secure himself from the fangs of the law. The vigilance of his creditor, a tailor, followed him, and he was arrested for the money, on account of which he had become security. From this difficulty he was released by the friendship of Mr. Laughlin Maclane and Dr. Sleigh, who were then at the college of Edinburgh. As soon as he was at liberty, he took his passage on board a Dutch ship to Rotterdam, from whence, after a short stay, he proceeded to Brussels. He then visited a great part of Flanders; and after passing some time at Strasbourg and Louvain, at which last place he obtained a degree of Bachelor in Physick, he accompanied an English gentleman to Geneva.

It iş said, on unquestionable authority, that our ingenious author performed the greater part of his

says he,

travels on foot; and he himself alludes to this circumstance in one of his early works. “ Countries,”

wear different appearances to travellers of different circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise, and the pilgrim who walks the grand tour on foot, will form very different conclusions.-Haud inexpertus loquor.It has been asserted, that he was enabled to pursue his travels, partly by demanding at universities to enter the lists as a disputant, by which, according to the custom of many of them, he was entitled to the premium of a crown, when, luckily for him, his challenge was not accepted; so that, as it has been observed, he disputed his passage through Europe.

He had left England with little money; but being at that time of a rambling disposition, and having probably no settled scheme of life, he neither foresaw, nor feared, any difficulties. He possessed also a body capable of sustaining every fatigue, and a mind not easily terrified by danger. Thus qualified, he formed the design of seeing the manners of different countries. He had acquired some knowledge of the French language, and of musick; he played also on the German flute, which he found a very useful accomplishment, as at times it afforded him the means of subsistence, which all his other

[ocr errors]

qualities would have failed to acquire for him. His learning, though not profound, produced him an hospitable reception at most of the religious houses that he visited ; and his musick made him welcome to the peasants of Flanders and Germany. "Whenever I approached a peasant's house towards nightfall,” he used to say, “I played one of my most merry tunes, and that generally procured me not only a lodging, but subsistence for the next day; “ but in truth,” his constant expression, “I must own, whenever I attempted to entertain persons of a higher rank, they always thought my performance odious, and never made me any return for my endeavours to please them.”

On his arrival at Geneva, it is said he was recommended as a travelling tutor to a young man, of mean birth and sordid disposition, who, after he had arrived at years of maturity, unexpectedly came into possession of a considerable fortune. With this person our author proceeded to the South of France, where a disagreement arose between the tutor and pupil, which ended in their parting from each other. Once more our ill-fated traveller was left to encounter the difficulties of a friendless stranger in a foreign country. He had by this time satisfied his curiosity, and accordingly bent his steps towards

[ocr errors]

England, where he arrived some time about the year 1757.

His situation was now altered, but not improved. He was still a stranger, and still destitute. “ The world was all before him,” but the means of present subsistence were not easy to be obtained. He applied to several apothecaries to be received as a journeyman; but his broad Irish accent, and uncouth appearance, operated against his reception. In this forlorn state he was at length obliged to submit to the humble condition of an assistant in the laboratory of a chymist near Fish-street Hill. From this drudgery he was released by the kindness of his friend Dr. Sleigh, who received him into his family, and undertook to support him, until some means could be devised for his maintenance. In a short time he accepted the employment of usher to a boarding-school, kept by Dr. Milner, a dissenting teacher, at Peckham. Though this station, when viewed in its proper light, can be esteemed neither dishonourable nor disgraceful, yet, it is remarkable, it was the only one which Goldsmith shrunk from the recollection of, when he attained a more prosperous state.

It is imagined, that while he was usher to Dr. Milner, he first engaged in the pursuits of literature. The earliest performance by him, now to be discovered, is, “The Memoirs of a Protestant, condemned to the Galleys of France for his Religion. Written by himself. "Translated from the Original, just published at the Hague, by James Willington;" 1758, two volumes 12", for which Mr. Edward Dilly paid him twenty guineas. In 1759 appeared “ An Enquiry into the present State of Polite Learning in Europe;" and in October of the same year he began “ The Bee,” a weekly publication, which ceased at the end of eight numbers. In the next year he became known to Dr. Smollett, who was then publishing “ The British Magazine;" and for that work our author composed several of the essays, which he afterwards collected into a volume. He also engaged as an assistant in the Critical Review; and it is believed wrote some articles in the Monthly Review.

In the commencement of his literary career, he determined to observe the rules of economy very rigidly, and with that view took a lodging in Greenarbour Court, in the Old Bailey, where the greater part of his most successful pieces were written. He had been introduced to Mr. Newbery, a man who truly deserved the eulogium bestowed by Dr. Warburton on the booksellers in general, as “one of the best judges and rewarders of merit,” by whom he

« VorigeDoorgaan »