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LIFE OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
Oliver GOLDSMITH was born at Elphin, in the county of Roscommon, in Ireland, on the 29th of November, 1728, and was the third son of Mr. Charles Goldsmith, a clergyman of the church of England, who had been educated in the university of Dublin, and who was possessed of a small landed property. With a narrow income and a large family (for, besides our author, he had four sons and two daughters) the father was unable to give to all his boys that education which he had himself received; and, having drawn too liberally on his finances to prepare bis eldest son, Henry, for the church, he destined Oliver for one of the subordinate professions, and placed him at the village school, the master of which had been a private soldier in the army of the great Marlborough. Some indications, however, of early genius in our poet determined his father to indulge him with a more liberal education; and, with the assistance of his brother-in-law, the Rev. Thomas Contarine, to enable the boy to run the same course of learning with his brother Henry. Oliver was accordingly removed from the tuition of the old soldier, from the tales of whose adventures he is said to have
imbibed bis passion for seeing foreign countries; and, having passed through two schools of inferior note, was finally stationed in that of the Rev. Patrick Hughes, of Edgeworthstown, in the county of Longford, to be accomplished for the Dublin University. Into this learned body he was admitted as a sizer on the 11th of June, 1744; but, being unfortunately placed under a tutor of a severe and violent temper, he soon endeavoured to escape from a situation wbich was too barassing and oppressive for his Jively and independent spirit to support. For the execution of bis purpose, he sold all bis little property of books and clothes, and, with the small produce, he sallied from his college to seek bis fortunes in the world. This wild scheme, however, ended in its natural result of disappointment and mortification; and the young vagrant was soon forced, by the power of hunger, to return and to submit to the oppression of his academical despot. The harsh treatment, which he altogether experienced at this period of bis life, very sensibly affected the character of his mind; and, with an indifference to his studies, it induced an habitual depression of his spirits. He neither obtained nor sought any of the university honours; and it was not till the February of 1749, two years after the regular time, that he was admitted to his B. A. degree.
On the death of his father, young Oliver was pressed by Mr. Contarine, who undertook the charge of him as of an adopted son, to prepare bimself for the profession of the church: but, bis inclinations in this instance being opposed to the views of his friend, he determined at first to devote himself to the law; and then, with an altered preference, to pursue the study of physic. With this object before him, in the end of the year 1752, he repaired to Edinburgh ; and there attended the lectures of the medical pro-.
fessors. But his application to study was interrupted and desultory; whilst his indulgence in the pleasures of society, with that facility and kindness of temper which made him always ready to impart his purse or his credit to a necessitous friend, kept him perpetually in a state not far removed from distress.
Having struggled, however, through the regular course of medical instruction in the metropolis of Scotland, he meditated the continuance of his career in the university of Leyden. But, in consequence of a debt of a fellow student for which he had made himself responsible, he was compelled to make a precipitate retreat from Edinburgh; and his flight was stopped, by an arrest, at Sunderland. By the kindness, however, of Doctor Sleigh and Mr. Laughlin Maclaine, he quickly recovered his liberty; and immediately embarked in a vessel which was bound for Bourdeaux. Of this voyage he was fortunately disappointed by the intervention of a singular occurrence; for, as he was engaged in a convivial party on shore with seven of his fellow passengers, the festive room was entered by a serjeant and twelve soldiers, and the eight boon companions were lodged in a prison. The men, as it seems, with whom our author was carousing on this occasion, were Scotsmen, who, having enlisted themselves in the service of France, had been recruiting for that foreign power in the territories of their native sovereign ; and had thus made themselves justly amenable to the laws of their injured country. After a fortnight's imprisonment, young Goldsmith succeeded in establishing bis ignorance of his comrades' guilt, and obtained bis liberation; but during his confinement, the vessel, in which he had engaged his passage, had sailed under evil auspices; for it was lost, with all its crew and passengers, in the mouth of the Garonne. Thus providentially saved, our author changed the destination of his voyage; and, on board of a ship sailing for Holland, he reached Rotterdam, and thence travelled on foot to Leyden. At Leyden he attended the lectures of Albinus on anatomy, and those of Gambius, on chemistry; and passed a year in profitable study. But bis passion for gaming and for dissipated pleasure made him for ever poor; and when, to indulge his prevailing wish of seeing the world, he commenced his travels, he discovered his entire carelessness of the morrow by setting out with nearly an empty purse. Without the means of purchasing accommodation, and with nothing more than his little wallet and his German 'flute, he traversed on foot the Low Countries, Switzerland, the north of Italy, and France. The difficulties, which he must bave encountered on such a ranıble, are not easily to be imagined; but through Switzerland and France he obtained the hospitality of the peasantry by the powers of his flute, whilst bis learning everywhere opened to him the doors of the monasteries, and seated him at their tables. With these resources, and with Providence for his guide, he happily surmounted all the labours and obstructions of his long travel; and, embarking at Calais, he landed at Dover in the summer of 1756.
He was now in England: but, unknown and unknowing as he was, without letters to introduce him, and pennyless, he found the soil of England not softer to his foot than the foreign soil which he had been treading; and he was still a stranger and a mendicant. · On bis arrival in London, where he knew not that one human being was acquainted with him, his first object was to obtain the place of an usher in one of the schools with wbich our capital, abounds; and, after numerous repulses, in consequence of his uncouth figure, his Irish accent, and
his want of a recommendation, he was at last admitted by one pedagogue, and was thus rescued from the streets. His situation, however, in this school, though it supplied him with the means of subsistence, became in a short time so painfully irksome to his feelings that he resigned it; and, without friends or money, he threw himself once more at random the world. He now solicited, from chemist to chemist, for the office of a journeyman compounder of drugs; but the causes wbich had before operated in his disfavour, still acted in opposition to him, and be found every ear barred against his suit. When he was reduced, however, almost to despair, a chemist near Fish Street Hill consented to accept his services; and from his new master he learned, with inexpressible joy, that his old friend Doctor Sleigh was at that time residing in the metropolis. To Doctor Sleigh he immediately repaired; and in this excellent man he discovered a heart as much softened with the milk of human kindness and altogether as warm as his own. To his distress this admirable friend gave the participation of bis house and his purse; and by his liberality Goldsmith was enabled to form a little establisbment of his own, and to announce himself as a medical practitioner. He had taken bis M. B. degree either at Padua or Louvaine, and his attainments in the science of medicine were adequate, as there cannot be a question, to the demands of the character which he assumed. His practice bowever, or rather the profit resulting from it, was so small, for his patients were more numerous than his fees, that he gladly accepted the place of an assistant to Doctor Milner in his academy at Peckham; an offer of wbich station was made to him through the intervention of Mr. Milner, the doctor's son, one of Goldsmith's fellow students at Edinburgh. In this situation our