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scription of the country and its inhabitants, with the good-humoured candour which made so distinguished a part of his character. ugly and a poor man is society only for himself, and such society the world lets me enjoy in great abundance. Fortune has given you circumstances, and Nature a power to look charming in the eyes of the fair. Nor do I envy my dear Bob such blessings, while I may sit down and laugh at the world and at myself, the most ridiculous object in it."
From Edinburgh our student passed to Leyden, but not without the diversities of an arrest for debt, a captivity of seven days at Newcastle, from having been found in company with some Scotchmen in the French service, and the no less unpleasing variety of a storm. At Leyden, Goldsmith was peculiarly exposed to a temptation which he never at any period of his life could easily resist. The opportunities of gambling were frequent,-he seldom declined them, and was at length stripped of every shilling.
In this hopeless condition Goldsmith commenced his travels, with one shirt in his pocket, and a devout reliance on providence. It is understood, that in the narrative of George, eldest son of the Vicar of Wakefield, the author gave a sketch of the resources which enabled him, on foot and without money, to make the tour of Europe. Through Germany and Flanders he had recourse to his violin, in which he was tolerably skilled; and a lively tune usually procured him a lodging in some peasant's cottage for the evening. In Italy, where his music or skill was held in less esteem, he found hospitality by disputing at the monasteries, in the character of a travelling scholar, upon certain philosophical theses, which the learned inhabitants were obliged, by their foundation, to uphold against all impugners. Thus, he obtained sometimes money, sometimes lodgings. He must have had other resources to procure both, which he has not thought proper to intimate. The foreign Universities afford similar facilities to poor scholars, with those presented by the Monasteries. Goldsmith resided at Padua for several months, and is said to have taken a degree at Louvain. Thus far is certain, that an account of the tour made by so good a
judge of human nature, in circumstances so singular, would have made one of the most entertaining books in the world ; and it is both wonder and pity, that Goldsmith did not hit upon a publication of his travels amongst the other literary resources in which his mind was fertile. He was not ignorant of the advantages which his mode of travelling had opened to him. “ Countries," he says, in his Essay on Polite Literature in Europe, “ wear very different appearances to travellers of different circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe in his post-chaise, and the pilgrim who walks the great tour on foot, will form very different conclusions. Haud inexpertus loquor.” Perhaps he
grew ashamed of the last admission, which he afterwards omitted. Goldsmith spent about twelve months in these wanderings, and landed in England in the year 1746, after having perambulated France, Italy, and part of Germany.
Poverty was now before our author in all its bitterness. His Irish friends had long renounced or forgotten him; and the wretched post of usher to an academy, of which he has drawn so piteous a picture in George's account of himself, was his refuge from actual starving. Unquestionably, his description was founded on personal recollections, where he says, “ I was up early and late ; I was brow-beat by the master ; hated for my ugly face by the mistress ; worried by the boys within ; and never permitted to stir out, to seek civility abroad.” This state of slavery he underwent at Peckham Academy, and had such bitter recollection thereof, as to be offended at the slightest allusion to it. An acquaintance happening to use the proverbial phrase, “ Oh, that is all a holiday at Peckham,” Goldsmith reddened, and asked if he meant to affront him. From this miserable condition he escaped with difficulty, to that of journeyman, or rather shop-porter, to a chemist in Fish-street-hill, in whose service he was recognized by Dr Sleigh, his countryman and fellow-student at Edinburgh, who, to his eternal honour, relieved Oliver Goldsmith from this state of slavish degradation.
Under the auspices of his friend and countryman, Goldsmith commenced practice as a physician about the Bankside, and afterwards near the Temple ; and although unsuccessful in procuring fees, had soon plenty of patients. It was now that he first thought of having recourse to that pen, which afterwards afforded the public so much delight. He wrote, he laboured, he compiled; he is described by one contemporary as wearing a rusty full-trimmed black suit, the very livery of the muses, with his pockets stuffed with papers, and his head with projects ; gradually he forced himself and his talents into notice, and was at last enabled to write, in one letter to a frierd, that he was too poor to be gazed at, but too rich to need assistance ;* and to boast in another,t of the refined conversation which he was sometimes admitted to partake in.
He now circulated proposals for publishing, by subscription, his Essay on Polite Literature in Europe, the profits of which he destined to equipping himself for India, having obtained from the Company the appointment of physician to one of their factories on the coast of Coromandel. But to rise in literature was more his desire than to increase his fortune. “ I eagerly long," he said, “ to embrace every opportunity to separate myself from the vulgar, as much in my circumstances as I am already in my sentiments. I find I want constitution and a strong steady disposition, which alone makes men great. I will, however, correct my faults, since I am conscious of them." I
Goldsmith’s versatile talents and ready pen soon engaged him in the service of the booksellers ; and doubtless the touches of his spirit and humour were used to enliven the dull pages of many a sorry miscellany and review; a mode of living which, joined to his own improvidence, rendered his income as fluctuating as his occupation. He wrote many Essays for various periodical publications, and afterwards collected them into one volume, finding that they were unceremoniously appropriated by his contemporaries. In the preface, he compares himself to the fat man in a famine, who, when his fellow sufferers proposed to feast on the superfluous part of his person, in
* Letter to Daniel Hodson, Esq. See Life of Goldsmith, prefixed to his Works, in four volumes, 1801. Vol. I. p. 42.
+ P. 48.
sisted with some justice on having the first slice himself. But his most elaborate effort in this style is the Citizen of the World ; letters supposed to be written by a Chinese philosopher, resident in England, in imitation of the Lettres Persannes of Montesquieu. Still, however, though subsisting thus precariously, he was getting forward in society; and had already, in the year 1761, made his way as far as Dr Johnson, who seems, from their first acquaintance, till death separated them, to have entertained. fo. Goldsmith the most sincere friendship, regarding his genius with respect, his failings with indulgence, and his person with affection.
It was probably soon after this first acquaintance, that Necessity, the parent of so many works of genius, gave birth to the Vicar of Wakefield. The circumstances attending the sale of the work to the fortunate publisher, are too singular to be told in any other words than those of Johnson, as reported by his faithful chronicler, Boswell.
“I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith, that he was in great distress ; and as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return, and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.”
Newberry, the purchaser of the Vicar of Wakefield, best known to the present generation by recollection of their infantine studies, was a man of worth as well as wealth, and the frequent patron of distressed genius. When he completed the bargain, which he probably entered into partly from compassion, partly from deference to John
son's judgment, he had so little confidence in the value of his purchase, that the Vicar of Wakefield remained in manuscript until the publication of the Traveller had established the fame of the author.
For this beautiful poem Goldsmith had collected materials during his travels ; and a part of it had been actually written in Switzerland, and transmitted from that country to the author's brother, the Reverend Dr Henry Goldsmith. His distinguished friend, Dr Johnson, aided him with several general hints; and is said to have contributed the sentiment which Goldsmith has so beautifully versified in the concluding lines.
The publication of the Traveller gave the author all that celebrity which he had so long laboured to attain. He now assumed the professional dress of the medical science, a scarlet cloak, wig, sword, and cane, and was admitted as a valued member of that distinguished society, which afterwards formed the Literary, or as it is more commonly called, emphatically, The Club. For this he made some sacrifices, renouncing some of the public places which he had formerly found convenient in point of expence and amusement; not without regret, for he used to say, “ In truth, one must make some sacrifices to obtain good society; for here am I shut out of several places where I used to play the fool very agreeably.” It often happened amid those sharper wits with whom he now associated, that the simplicity of his character, mingled with an inaccuracy of expression, an undistinguishing spirit of vanity, and a hurriedness of conception, which led him often into absurdity, rendered Dr Goldsmith in some degree the butt of the company. Garrick, in particular, who probably presumed somewhat on the superiority of a theatrical manager over a dramatic author, shot at him many shafts of small epigrammatic wit. It is probable that Goldsmith began to feel that this spirit was carried too far, and to check it in the best taste, he composed his celebrated poem of Retaliation, in which the characters and failings of his associates are drawn with satire, at once pungent and good-humoured. Garrick is smartly chastised; Burke, the Dinner-bell of the House of Commons, is not spared ; and of all the more distinguished names of the Club, Johnson and Rey