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heighten this pleasure, it must be an intimate knowledge
of the amusing vanities and eccentricities of the poet. Goldsmith was born in the parish of Ferney, in the county
of Longford, in Ireland. His father was a clergyman, and is supposed to have been sketched by his son in his Village Pastor. Henry, the eldest son of the family, took orders; and, as it was found inconvenient to bestow a learned education on the poet, he was intended for some mercantile employment; but, from certain early indications of genius, this destination was changed, and Oliver was entered a sizer of Trinity College, Dublin. His residence at the university was chiefly distinguished by squabbles with a harsh and severe tutor, whose violence made the young student at one time run off from college. After completing his course at the university, young Oliver showed so decided an aversion to the church, that his destination was once more changed, and
about 1772 he was sent to Edinburgh to study medicine. Before this period he had, on several occasions, discovered the imprudence and excessive eccentricity of his disposi. tion; and, instead of his declining to take orders, it is stated, that he was refused ordination from appearing before the bishop on the solemn occasion in a pair of flaming red breeches. In the interval, between leaving Trinity College and going to Edinburgh, he became a tutor in a family, where he felt himself so ill at ease, that, having earned about L.30, he instantly bought a horse, and set forth in quest of adventures, and with the ridiculous scheme of establishing himself in life. By a narrow chance he was prevented from sailing to America; and at the end of six weeks, after a series of whimsical adventures, he returned to his widowed mother without a penny in his pocket, and mounted on an old garron, which he named Fiddleback. Nothing can be more characteristic of this Irish son of the Muses, than the blended humour and simplicity of his observation to
his mother on the grave displeasure with which she had listened to the recital of his adventures : “And now, my dear mother, having struggled so hard to come home,
I wonder you are not more rejoiced to see me." Kind relatives, who had already done much for Goldsmith,
did not yet desert him. With L.50 in his pocket, he set out for the Temple to commence the study of law; but never got beyond Dublin, where, having spent all his money, or been pillaged at the gaming-table, to which he had ever an unhappy propensity, the disgraced prodigal
once more returned to his mother. After a period of thought and penitence he was sent to
Edinburgh, where he attended medical lectures as little, and amused himself as much as he could. From Edinburgh he was forced to remove precipitately, in consequence of being security for a friend's debt; and he proposed finishing his medical studies at Leyden--for which purpose he, very characteristically, sailed for Bordeaux, But Leyden he reached at last; and, after spending all his money, borrowed from a friend, in the purchase of tulip-roots,-a bargain, all circumstances considered, even surpassing Moses's gross of green spectacles with silver rims, he set out on the tour of France, or of the globe, for what he knew,“ with one clean shirt, and no money in his pocket.” It is constantly affirmed, that on this expedition he often procured lodging and food by playing the flute ; and it is certain that he made his way through France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, mostly on foot, and with very slender means. From Switzerland he transmitted the outline of The TRAVELLER to his brother
Henry. While abroad, Goldsmith lost his uncle and benefactor, Mr
Contarine; and he came to London from France, in 1756, in the deepest poverty. By the kind offices of a fellow-student, whom he had known in Edinburgh, he obtained some temporary employment; but, failing as a
medical practitioner, he engaged with the Monthly Review, and other literary works. From this period his difficulties were wholly imputable to himself; for, though he wanted not industry, he was ever lamentably deficient in prudence. It was about 1763, that, according to the well-known story, he was discovered by Johnson assailed by bailiffs without, and a clamorous landlady within, and rescued by the sale of the Vicar of Wakefield to Newberry, the bookseller, for which Johnson obtained L.60. This delightful novel was not published for some years afterwards, by which time the appearance of the TRAVELLER had gained the poet many distinguished friends, and a nation of admirers. He was now promoted
to elegant apartments in the Temple; and here wrote his - dramas and histories. He now became a favourite mem- ber of the celebrated Literary Club, and was to that illus
trious association the fondling that Gay had been to the wits of the former age,-loved, caressed, and laughed at. The character of Goldsmith is a moral anomaly, and goes
farther than that of most men to establish the doctrines of the modern phrenologists; for, with some moral qualities in excess, others seem totally wanting. In the phraseology of that sect, his benevolence and self-esteem were large: his conscientiousness was small indeed. “Madam,” said Johnson, speaking of Goldsmith to a literary lady, “ Noll will lie through an inch board.” So odd were his manners, and so much at variance with his genius. that one of his friends usually called him “ an inspired idiot ;” and Johnson, who, with a perfect knowledge of his character and failings, sincerely loved the man, has said,-“ No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, nor more wise when he had.” It is not less surprising to find, that a man so exquisitely alive to the ridiculous, even in its most hidden intricacies and delicate shadings, as Goldsmith appears in his writings, should, in downright simplicity and unconsciousness, have exhibited in his own person and conduct so many points of utter laughable absurdity. His own peach-coloured coat, in Boswell's narrative, equals Moses's suit of thunder and lightning; the tulip-speculation, Moses's bargain of green spectacles; and the purchase of Fiddleback, any transaction of the Vicar with Mr Jenkins. “ Poor Goldsmith,” says one of his admirers, “ how happy he made others, how unhappy he was himself!-he never had the pleasure of reading his own
works.” Goldsmith died at the age of forty-five. His death was
hastened by the imprudent use of Dr James's powders, contrary, it is said, to the advice of his medical attendant. Anxiety of mind and disease preyed on him together : for he had by this time involved his affairs by blameable thoughtlessness, and his health by fits of severe application, alternating with periods of dissipation and idleness. Before his death his debts amounted to L.4000. “ Was," says Johnson, “ ever poet so trusted before?"
THE VILLAGE SCHOOLMASTER. BESIDE yon straggling fence, that skirts the way With blossom’d furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule, The village-master taught his little school.A man severe he was, and stern to view; I knew him well ; and every truant knew. Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace The day's disasters in his morning face: Full well they laugh’d, with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes—for many a joke had he: Full well the busy whisper, circling round, Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd.
Yet he was kind ; or, if severe in aught,
sound Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around; And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew.
BORN 1730-DIED 1769.
The author of the SHIPWRECK was the son of a barber in
Edinburgh. His education was of the most scanty kind; and, when a mere boy, he went to sea in a merchant-vessel, trading between Leith and the Levant. How a youth so situated contrived to increase his knowledge and improve his mind it is not easy to conceive. The Shipwreck was published while its author was quite unknown among men of letters. It was dedicated to the Duke of York, by whose patronage Falconer was made a midshipman. He married, and, after the peace of 1763, compiled the Ma. rine Dictionary. After several reverses of fortune, during which his conduct was throughout judicious and correct, he obtained the appointment of purser of an Indiaman,