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per light, can be estcemed neither dishonourable por 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, 12mo, for which Mr. Edward Dilly paid him twenty guineas. In 1759 appeared “ An Inquiry 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. Smollet, 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, as well as some of those inserted in a later enlarged edition. 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 Green-arbourcourt, 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 book. sellers in general, as one of the best judges and rewarders of merit," by whom he was employed to write, in the Public Ledger, the Chinese Letters, afterwards
collected under the title of " The Citizen of the World;" and soon after he obtained the friendship of Dr. Samuel Johnson, who encouraged him in his pursuits, applauded his exertions, and occasionally assisted him with his advice.
Our author, however, did not soon emerge from obscurity. He continued in his humble abode in Greenarbour-court, until about the middle of the year 1762, when he removed to a handsome set of chambers in the Middle Temple. His name was still but little known, except among the booksellers, until the year 1765, when his genius displayed itself in its full vigour by the publication of " The Traveller, or a Prospect of Society :" a poem begun in Switzerland, and which was revised by Dr. Johnson ; who pronounced this eulogium on it, " that there had not been so fine a poem since Pope's time.”
This poem established his literary reputation, and introduced him to the acquaintance of several men of rank and abilities, Lord Nugent, Mr. Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Nugent, Topham Beaudric, Mr. Dyer, &c. who took pleasure his conversation, and sometimes laughed at blunders to which he was addicted, but admired the simplicity of the man, and the elegance of his poetical talents.
The same year be published his collection of " Essays," which had been printed in the newspapers, magazines, and other periodical publications.
In 1766, appeared, “ The Vicar of Wakefield.”
Soon after the publication of “ The Traveller,” he removed from Wine-office-court to the Library-staircase, Inner-Temple, and at the same time took a country house, in conjunction with Mr. Bot, an intimate literary friend, on the Edgeware-road, at the back of Can
nons. Here he wrote his “ History of England, in a
« his * Selection of English Poetry’ showed most the art of profession.” Here he did nothing but mark the particular passages with a red-lead pencil, and for this he obtained two hundred pounds; but then he used to add,
a man shows his judgment in these selections, and he may be often twenty years of his life in cultivating that judgment.”
In the year 1767, our author, who had now assumed the title of Doctor, made his first, and, probahly, his only effort, towards obtaining a permanent establishment. On the death of Mr. Mace Gresham, Professor of Civil Law, he became a candidate to succeed him ; but without success.
In 1768, his first play,“ The good-natured Man," was acted at Covent-Garden, with less approbation than it deserved. Many parts of it exhibit the strongest indications of comic talents. There is, perhaps, no character on the stage more happily imagined and more highly finished than Croaker's. In the succeeding year he had the honorary Professorship of History of the Royal Academy conferred on him.
About this time he compiled a “ Roman History," % vol. 8vo, and a History of England," in 4 vol. 8vo. He also was concerned in a periodical publication, called “ The Gentleman's Journal,” in conjunction with Dr. Kendrick, Bickerstaff, &c. which was soon discontinued.
The estimation in which he was held by the booksellers was at this time so great, that he was solicited to engage in a variety of works. His emoluments were very considerable; and, had he possessed only a small portion of prudence, he might have ensured that independence, the want of which embittered his latter days, and contributed, in some measure, to shorten his life.
His next original publication was “ The Deserted Village," which came out in the spring of 1770, and had a very rapid sale. He was, by his own confession, four or five years collecting materials, in all his country excursions, for this poem, and was actually engaged in the construction of it during two years.
In 1771, lie prefixed a “ Life of Parnell,” to a new edition of his “ Poems on several Occasions,” by T. . Davies, 8vo.
His next original work was his comedy of " She Stoops to Conquer.” He cleared 8001. by this comedy; and though this year was very successful to him, by“ The History of Greece," 2 vol. “ The Life of Bolingbrook," prefixed to a new editon of " The Patriot King," and other publications; yet what with his liberality to poor authors, Purdon, Jack Pilkington, Dr. Hiffernan, &c. and a ridiculous and unfortunate habit of gaming, with the arts of which he was very little acquainted, he found himself at the end of it considerably in debt.
Besides his " Histories of England,”?" of Greece," and 66 of Rome,” he compiled “ An History of the Earth and Animated Nature,” 8 val. 8vo, 1774, which procured for him more money than fame.
Just before his death, he had formed a design for executing “ An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences ;' a plan which met with no encouragement.
The poem of “ Retaliation" was his last performance, which he did not live to finish. It was written in answer to some illiberal attacks in a club of literary friends, When he had gone as far as the character of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he read it to his associates. He however did not mean to publish his poem, but to keep it, as he expressed himself to a friend, “ as a rod in pickle upon a future occasion :" but this occasion never presented itself: for a more awful period was approaching," when kings as well as poets cease from their labours."
Goldsmith's generosity, not to call it profusion, was without bounds. He was so humane in his disposition, that his last guinea was the general boundary of his munificence. Besides two or three poor authors always as pensioners, he had several widows and poor housekeepers; and when he had no money to give, he sent the latter away with shirts or old clothes, and sometimes with the whole contents of breakfast-table, saying, after they were gone, with a smile of satisfaction, now let me suppose I have ate a hearty breakfast, and am nothing out of pocket."
His habit of gaming, and general carelessness with respect to money-matters, appear to have been his predominant failings. Though in the course of fourteen years, the produce of his pen is said to have amounted to more than eight thousand pounds, yet his income bore no proportion to his expenses. He became embarrassed in his circumstances, and in consequence uneasy, fretful, and peevish. To this was added a violent strangury, with which he was some years afflicted, and which, with other misfortunes, brought on a kind of habitual despondency, wherein he used to express a great indifference to life. In this state he was attacked, March, 1774, by a nervous fever, which, being improperly treated, ter.