« ПретходнаНастави »
could be procured for him. Goldsmith, unwilling to be a burden to his friend, a short time after eagerly embraced an offer which was made him to assist the late Rev. Dr. Milner, in instructing the young gentlemen at the academy at Peckham; and acquitted himself greatly to the Doctor's satisfaction for a short time; but, having obtained some reputation by the criticisms he had written in the Monthly Review, Mr. Griffith, the principal pro-, prietor, engaged him in the compilation of it; and resolving to pursue the profession of writing, he returned to London, as the mart where abilities of every kind were sure of meeting distinction and reward. Here he determined to adopt a plan of the strictest economy, and, at the close of the year 1759, took lodgings in GreenArbour-court, in the Old Bailey, where he wrote several ingenious pieces. The late Mr. Newbery, who, at that time
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 seemed to take some notice of a man she 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 respectable persons; aud, about the middle of the year 1762, he emerged from his mean apartments near the Old Bailey, to the politer air of the Temple, where he took handsome chambers, and lived in a genteel style. Among many other persons of distinction who were desirous to know him, was the Duke of Northumberland; and the circumftance that attended his introduction to that nobleman, is worthy of being related, in order to sew a striking trait
in his character. “ I was invited,” said the Doctor, "by.
my friend Percy, to wait upon the Duke, in conse" quence of the satisfaction he had received from the
perusal of one of my productions. I dressed myself " in the best manner I could, and, after studying some “ compliments I thought necessary on such an occasion, “ proceeded on to Northumberland-house, and acquaint“ ed the servants that I had particular business with his “ Grace. They shewed me into an antichamber, where, “ after waiting some time, a gentleman very elegantly so dressed made his appearance : taking him for the Duke, I " delivered all the fine things I had composed, in order to " compliment him on the honour he had done me; when, “ to my great astonishment, he told me I had mistaken " him for his master, who would see me immediately. " At that instant the Duke came into the apartment, " and I w so confounded on the occasion, that I wanted “ words barely sufficient to express the sense I enter“ tained of the Duke's politeness, and went away exceed6. ingly chagrined at the blunder I had committed.”
The Doctor, at the time of this visit, was much embarrassed in his circumstances—but, vain of the honour done him, was continually mentioning it. One of the ingeni. ous executors of the law, a bailiff, who had a writ against him, determined to turn this circumstance to his own. advantage : he wrote him a letter, that he was steward to a nobleman who was charmed with reading his last production, and had ordered him to desire the Doctor to appoint a place where he might have the honour of meeting him, to conduct him to his Lordship. The vanity of poor Goldsmith immediately swallowed the bait;, he appointed the British Coffee-house, to which he was accompanied by his friend Mr. Hamilton, the printer of the Critical Review, who in vain remonstrated on the
singularity of the application. On entering the coffeeroom, the bailiff paid his respects to the Doctor, and desired that he might have the honour of immediately attending him. They had scarce entered Pall-mall, in their way to his Lordship, when the bailiff produced his writ. Mr. Hamilton generously paid the money, and redeemed the Doctor from captivity.
The publication of his Traveller, his Vicar of Wakefield, and his History of England, was followed by the performance of his comedy of The Good-natured Man at CoventGarden Theatre, and placed him in the first rank of the poets of the present age.
Our Doctor, as he was now universally called, had a constant levee of his distressed countrymen, whose wants, as far as he was able, he always relieved; and he has often been known to leave himself even without a guinea, in order to supply the necessities of others.
Another feature in his character we cannot help laying before the reader. Previous to the publication of his Deserted Village, the bookseller 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 observed it was a very great sum for so short a performance. “In truth,” replied Goldsmith, “ I think so too; 66 it is much more than the honest man can afford, or the
piece is worth; I have not been easy since I received 6 it; I will therefore go back and return him his note :" which he actually did, and left it entirely to the bookseller to pay him according to the profits produced by the sale of the poem, which turned out very considerable.
The Doctor did not, however, reap a profit from his poeti. cal labours equal to those of his prose. The Earl of Lisburne, whose classical taste is well known, one day at a dinner of the Royal Academicians, lamented to the Doctor his
neglecting the muses, and enquired of him why he forsook poetry, in which he was sure of charming his readers, to compile histories, and write novels? The Doctor replied, - My Lord, by courting the muses, I shall starve ; but by
my other labours, I eat, drink, have good clothes, and " enjoy the luxuries of life.”
During the last rehearsal of his comedy, intituled, She Stoops to Conquer, which Mr. Colman thought would not succeed, on the Doctor's objecting to the repetition of one of Tony Lumpkin's speeches, being apprehensive it might injure the play, the manager, with great keenness replied, “ Plha, my dear Doctor, do not be fearful of
Squibs, when we have been sitting almost these two " hours upon a barrel of gunpowder.” The piece, nevertheJess, contrary to Mr. Colman's expectation, was received with uncommon applause by the audience; and Goldsmith's pride was so hurt by the severity of the above observation, that it entirely put an end to his friendship for the gentleman who made it.
The last work of this ingenious Author, was An History of the Earth and Animated Nature, in 8 vols. 8vo-for which production his bookseller paid him 8501. The Doctor, who seems to have considered attentively the works of the several authors who have wrote on this subject, professes to have had a taste rather classical than scientific, and it was in the study of the classics that he first caught the desire of attaining a knowledge of nature. Pliny first inspired him, and he resolved to translate that agreeable writer, and, by the help of a commentary, to make his translation acceptable to the public. The appearance of Mr. Buffon's work, however, induced the Doctor to change his plan, and instead of translating an ancient writer, he resolved to imitate the last and best of the inodern, who had written on natural history.
Notwithstanding the great success of his pieces-by some of which, it is asserted, upon good authority, that he cleared 180ol. in one year-his circumstances were by no means in a prosperous situation! partly owing to the liberality of his disposition, and partly to an unfortunate habit he had contracted of gaming, with the arts of which he was very little acquainted, and consequently became the prey
of those who were unprincipled enough to take advantage of his ignorance.
Just before his death, he had formed a design for executing an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, the Profpe&tus of which he actually printed and distributed among his acquaintance. In this work, several of his literary friends (particularly Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Garrick) had promised to assist, and to furnish him with articles upon different subjects. He had entertained the most fanguine expectations from the success of it. The undertaking, however, did not meet with that encouragement from the booksellers which he had imagined it would undoubtedly receive; and he used to lament this circumstance almost to the last hour of his existence.
He had been for fome years afflicted, at different times, with a violent stranguary, which contributed not a little to imbitter the latter part of his life; and which, united with the vexations he suffered on other occasions, brought on a kind of habitual despondency. In this unhappy condition he was attacked by a nervous fever, which terminated in his dissolution, on the 4th day of April 1774, in the 45th year of his age.
His friends, who were very numerous and respectable, had determined to bury him in Westminster-abbey: His pall was to have been supported by Lord Shelburne, Lord Louth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Hon. Mr. Beauclerc,