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Beaux Efprits, where Wit Sparkled fometimes at the expence of Good-nature.---It was prepofed to write Epitaphs on him; his Country, Dialect and Perfon, furnished subjects of Witticism! He was called on for Retaliation, and at their next meeting he produced the following Poem, which I think adds one Leaf to his immortal Wreath.
Some ACCOUNT of the of the LIFE of the late
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M. B.
LIVER GOLDSMITH was born at Rofcommon in Ireland, in the year 1731. His father, who poffèffed a fmall eftate in that county, had nine fons, of which Oliver was the third. He was origi nally intended for the church; and with that view, after being well inftructed in the claffics, was, with his brother the Rev. Henry Goldfinith, placed in Trinity-college, Dublin, about the latter end of the year 1749. In this feminary of learning he continued a few years, when he took a Bachelor's degree; but, his brother not being able to obtain any preferment after he left the college, Oliver, by the advice of Dean Goldfinith of Cork, turned his thoughts to the profeffion of phyfic, and, after attending fome courfes of anatomy in Dublin, proceeded to Edinburgh in the year 1751, where he ftudied the feveral branches of medicine under the different Profeffors in that University, which was deservedly ranked among the first schools of phyfic in Europe. His beneficent difpofition foon involved him in unexpected difficulties, and he was obliged precipitately to leave Scotland, in confequence of engaging himself to pay a confiderable fum of money for a fellow-ftudent.
A few days after, about the beginning of the year 1754, he arrived at Sunderland, near Newcastle, where he was arrefted at the fuit of one Barclay, a taylor in Edinburgh, to whom he had given fecurity for his friend. By the good graces of Laughlin Maclane, Efq; and Dr. Sleigh, who were then in the college, he was foon delivered out of the hands of the Bailiff, and took his paffage on board a Dutch ship to Rotterdam, where, after a fhort ftay, he proceeded to Bruffels. He then visited great part of Flanders, and, after paffing fome time at Strasbourg and Louvain, where he obtained a degree of Bachelor in phyfic, he accompanied an English gentleman to Geneva.
It is undoubtedly fact, that this ingenious, unfortunate man, made most part of his tour on foot! He had left England with very little money, and, being of a philofophical turn, and at that time poffeffing a body capable of fuftaining every fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at danger, he became an enthusiast to the defign he had
formed of feeing the manners of different countries. He had fome knowledge of the French language, and of mufic; he played tolerably well on the German flute; which, from an amufement, became at fome times the means of fubfiftence. His learning produced him an hofpitable reception at most of the religious houfes, and his music made him welcome to the peasants of Flanders and Germany. Whenever I approached a peafant's houfe towards night-fall,' he ufed to fay, I played one of my I played one of my moft merry tunes, and that generally procured me not only a lodging, but fubfiftence for the next day but in truth,' his conftant expreffion, I must own, whenever I attempted to entertain perfons 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, he was recommended as a proper perfon for a travelling tutor to a young man, who had been unexpectedly left a confiderable fum of money by his uncle Mr. S. -. This youth, who was articled to an attorney, on receipt of his fortune determined to fee the world; and, on his engaging with his preceptor, made a provifo, that he fhould be permitted to govern himfelf; and our traveller foon found his pupil understood the art of directing in money concerns extremely well, as avarice was his prevailing pallion.
During Goldsmith's continuance in Switzerland, he affiduously cultivated his poetical talent, of which he had given fome ftriking proofs at the college of Edinburgh. It was from hence he fent the first sketch of his delightful epiftle, called the Traveller, to his brother the clergyman in Ireland, who, giving up fame and fortune, had retired, with an amiable wife, to happiness and obfcurity, on an income of only 401. a year.
From Geneva Mr. Goldfinith and his pupil vifited the fouth of France, where the young man, upon fome difagreement with his preceptor, paid him the fmall part of his falary which was due, and embarked at Marfeilles for England. Our wanderer was left once more upon the world at large, and paffed through a number of difficulties in traversing the greatest part of France. At length his curiofity being gratified, he bent his courfe towards England, and arrived at Dover, the beginning of the winter, in the year 1758.
His finances were fo low on his return to England, that he with difficulty got to this metropolis, his whole ftock of cash amounting to no more than a few halfpence! An entire ftranger in London, his mind was filled with the most gloomy reflections in confequence of his embarraffed fituation! He applied to feveral apothecaries in hopes of being received in the capacity of a journeyman, but his broad Irish accent, and the uncouthnefs of his appearance, occafioned him to meet with infult. from most of the medicinal tribe. The next day, however, a chymift near Fish ftreet, ftruck with his forlorn condition, and the fimplicity of his manner, took him into his laboratory, where he continued till he difcovered his old friend Dr. Sleigh was in London. This gentleman received him with the warmest affection, and liberally invited him to fhare his purfe till fome eftablishment could be procured for him. Goldfmith, unwilling to be a burden to his friend, a thort time after eagerly embraced an offer which was made him to affift the late Rev. Dr. Milner, in inftructing the young gentlemen at the Academy at Peckham; and acquitted himself greatly to the Doctor's fatisfaction for a fhort time; but, having obtained fome reputation by the criticisms he had written in the Monthly Review, Mr. Griffiths, the principal proprietor, engaged him in the compilation of it; and, refolving to purfue the profeffion of writing, he returned to London, as the mart where abilities of every kind were fure of meeting diftinction and reward. Here he determined to adopt a plan of the ftricteft œconomy, and took lodgings in Green Arbour court in the Old Bailey, where he wrote feveral ingenious pieces. The late Mr. Newbery, who, at that time gave great encouragement to men of literary abilities, became a kind of patron to our young author, and introduced him as one of the writers in the Public Ledger, in which his Citizen of the World originally appeared, under the title of Chinese Letters.'
Fortune now feemed to take fome notice of a man he had long neglected. The fimplicity of his character, the integrity of his heart, and the merit of his productions, made his company very acceptable to a number of refpectable perfons, and he emerged from his shabby apartments near the Old Bailey to the politer air of the Temple, where he took handsome chambers, and lived in a genteel ftyle. The publication of his Traveller, his Vicar of Wakefield, and his Letters on the Hiftory of England, was followed by the performance of his comedy
medy of the Good-natured Man at Covent Garden theatre, and placed him in the first rank of the poets of the prefent age.
Our Doctor, as he was now univerfally called, had a conftant levee of his diftreft countrymen; whofe wants, as far as he was able, he always relieved, and he has been often known to leave himself even without a guinea, in order to fupply the neceffities of others!
Another feature in his character we cannot help laying before the reader. Previous to the publication of his Deferted Village, the Bookfeller had given him a note for one hundred guineas for the copy, which the Doctor mentioned, a few hours after, to one of his friends, who obferved it was a very great fum for fo fhort a performance. In truth, replied Goldfmith, I think fo too, it is much more than the honeft man can afford, or the piece is worth, I have not been eafy fince I received it; therefore I will go back and return him his note, which he abfolutely did, and left it entirely to the Bookfeller to pay him according to the profits produced by the fale of the poem, which turned out very confiderable. S
During the last rehearsal of his comedy, intitled, She stoops to Conquer, which Mr. Coleman had no opinion would fucceed, on the Doctor's objecting to the repetition of one of Tony Lumpkin's fpeeches, being apprehenfive it might injure the play, the Manager, with great keennefs replied, Pha, my dear Doctor, do not be fearful of fquibs, when we have been fitting almost these two hours upon a barrel of gunpowder.' The piece, however, contrary to Mr. Coleman's expectation, was received with uncommon applaufe by the audience; and Goldfmith's pride was fo hurt by the feverity of the above observation, that it entirely put an end to his friendship for the gentleman who made it.
Notwithstanding the great fuccefs of his pieces, by fome of which, it is afferted, upon good authority, he cleared 1800l. in one year, his circumstances were by no means in a profperous fituation! partly owing to the liberality of his difpofition, and partly to an unfortunate habit he had contracted of gaming, the arts of which he knew very little of, and confequently became the prey of those who were unprincipled enough to take advantage of his ignorance.