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His eldest son, Henry, went into the church, and is the gentleman to whom our poet dedicated his " Traveller.” Oliver was the second son, and is supposed to have faith: fully represented his father in the character of the Village Preacher in the “ Deserted Village.” Oliver was originally intended for some mercantile employment, as his father found his income too scanty for the expences of the literary education which he had bestowed on his eldest son. With this view he was instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, at a common school, the master of which was an old soldier, of a romantic turn, who entertained his pupil with marvellous stories of his travels and feats, and is sup. posed to have imparted somewhat of that wandering and unsettled turn which so much appeared in his pupil's future life. It is certain that Oliver had not been long at this humble school before he proved that he was “no vulgar boy.” He made some attempts in poetry when he was scarcely eight years old, and by the inequalities of his temper and conduct, betrayed a disposition more favourable to the flights of genius than the regularity of business. This after some time became so obvious, that his friends, who had at first pleaded for his being sent to the university, now determined to contribute towards the expence, and by their assistance, he was placed at a school of reputation, where he might be qualified to enter the college with the advantages of preparatory learning. ..
In June 1744, when in his fifteenth year, he was sent to Dublin college, and entered as a sizer, under the rev. Mr. Wilder, one of the fellows, but a man of harsh temper and violent passions, and consequently extremely unfit to win the affections and guide the disposition of a youth simple, ingenuous, thoughtless, and unguarded. His pupil, however, made some progress, although slow, in academi. cal studies. In 1747, he was elected one of the exhibitioners on the foundation of Erasmus Smyth ; and in 1749, two years after the regular time, he was admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts. His indolence and irregularities may in part account for this tardy advancement to the reputation of a scholar, but much may likewise be attributed to the unfeeling neglect of his tutor, who contended only for the preservation of certain rules of discipline, while he gave himself little trouble with the cultivation of the mind. On one occasion he thought proper to chastise Oliver before a party of young friends of both sexes, whom,
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with his usual imprudence, he was entertaining with a supper and dance in his rooms. Oliver immediately disposed of his books and cloaths, left college, and commenced a wanderer, without any prospect, without friends, and without money. At length, after suffering such extremity of hunger, that a handful of grey peas which a girl gave him at a wake, appeared a luxurious meal, he contrived to acquaint his brother with his situation, who immediately clothed him, and carried him back to college, effecting at the same time a reconciliation between him and his tutor, which, it may be supposed, was more convenient than cordial on either side.
Soon after this event, his father died, and his friends wished him to prepare for holy orders; but to this he declared his dislike; and finding himself equally uncomfortable as tutor in a private family, to which he had been recommended, he again left the country with about thirty pounds in his pocket. After an absence of six weeks, he returned to his mother's house, without a penny, having expended the whole in a series of whimsical adventures, of which the reader will find a very entertaining account in the Life prefixed to his Works. His mother and friends being reconciled to him, his uncle the rev. Thomas Contarine, resolved to send him to the Temple to study law; but in his way to London, he met at Dublin with a sharper who tempted him to play, and stript him of fifty pounds, with which he had been furnished for his voyage and journey. His youth must furnish the only apology that can be made for this insensibility to the kindness of his friends, who could ill afford the money thus wantonly lost. Again, however, they received him into favour, and it being now decided that he should study physic, he was sent to Edinburgh, for that purpose, about 1752 or 1753, but still his thoughtless and eccentric disposition betrayed him into many ludicrous situations. He formally, indeed, attended the lectures of the medical professors, but his studies were neither regular nor profound. There was always something he liked better than stated application. Among his fellow-students, he wished to recommend himself, and he was not unsuccessful, by his stories and songs, as a social companion, and a man of humour; and this ambition to shine in company by such means, never wbolly left him when he came to associate with men who are not charmed by poisy vivacity.
After he had gone through the usual course of lectures, his uncle, who appears to have borne the principal expences of his education, equipped him for the medical school of Leyden, at which, however, he did not arrive without meeting with some of those incidents which have given an air of romance to his history. At Leyden he studied chemistry and anatomy for about a year; but a taste for gaming, which he appears to have caught very early, frequently plunged him into difficulties, without any of the benefits of experience. Even the money which he was compelled to borrow, in order to enable him to leave Holland, was expended on some costly flowers which he bought of a Dutch florist, as a present to his uncle; and when he set out on his travels, he “had only one clean shirt, and no money in his pocket.” In such a plight any other man would have laid his account with starving; but Goldsmith had “a knack at hoping,” and however miserably provided, determined to make the tour of Europe on foot. In what manner he performed this singular undertaking, he is supposed to have informed us in "The History of a Philosophic Vagabond,” in chap. xx. of the “ Vicar of Wakefield.” He had some knowledge of music, and charmed the peasants so much as to procure a lodging and a subsistence. He also entered the foreign universities and convents, where, upon certain days, theses are maintained against any adventitious disputant, for wbich, if the champion opposes with some dexterity, he may claim a gratuity in money, a dinner, and a bed for the night. At one time, he is said to have accompanied a young Englishman as a tutor ; but his biographer doubts whether this part of the Philosophic Vagabond's story was not a fiction. It is certain, however, that in the manner above related, and with some assistance from his uncle, he contrived to travel through Flanders, and part of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. It was probably at Padua that he took a medical degree, as he remained here about six months, but one of his earliest biographers thinks he took the degree of bachelor of medicine at Louvaine. His generous uncle dying while he was in Italy, he was obliged to travel through France to England on foot, and landed at Dover in 1756.
He arrived in London in the extremity of distress, and first tried to be admitted as an usher in a school or academy, and having with some difficulty obtained that situation, he remained for some time in it, submitting to mortifications,
of which he has given, probably, an exaggerated account in the story of the philosophic vagabond. He next procured a situation in the shop of a chemist, and while here, was found out by Dr. Sleigh, one of his fellow-students at Edinburgh, who liberally shared his purse with him, and encouraged him to commence practitioner. With this view, he settled, if any measure of our poet deserves that epithet, in Bankside, Southwark; and afterwards removed to the Temple or its neighbourhood. In either place his success as a physician is not much known; his own account was, that he had plenty of patients, but got no fees.
About this time, however, he appears to have had recourse to his pen. His first attempt was a tragedy, which he probably never finished. In 1758 he obtained, by means of Dr. Milner, a dissenting minister, who kept a school at Peckham, which our author superintended during the doctor's illness, the appointment to be physician to one of our factories in India. In order to procure the necessary expences for the voyage, he issued proposals for printing by subscription “ The present state of Polite Literature in Europe,” with what success we are not told, nor why he gave up his appointment in India. In the same year, however, he wrote what he very properly calls a catch-penny “ Life of Voltaire," and engaged with Mr. Griffiths as a critic in the Monthly Review. The terms of this engagement were his board, lodging, and a handsome salary, all secured by a written agreement. Goldsmith declared he usually wrote for his employer every day from nine o'clock till two. But at the end of seven or eight months it was dissolved by mutual consent, and our poet took lodgings in Green Arbour court, in the Old Bailey, amidst the dwellings of indigence, where he completed his “ Present State of Polite Literature,” printed for Dodsley, 1759, 12mo.
He afterwards removed to more decent lodgings in Wine Office-court, Fleet-street, where he wrote his ad. mirable novel, “ The Vicar of Wakefield,” attended with the affecting circumstance of his being under arrest. When the knowledge of his situation was communicated to Dr. Johnson, he disposed of his manuscript for sixty pounds, to Mr. Newbery, and procured his enlargement. Although the money was then paid, the book was not published until some time after, when his excellent poem “ The Traveller? had established his fame. His connection with Mr. Newbery was a source of regular supply, as he employed
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him in compiling or revising many of his publications, particularly, “ The Art of Poetry," 2 vols. 12mo; a “ Life of Beau Nash," and " Letters on the History of England," 2 vols. 12mo, which have been attributed to lord Lyttelton, the earl of Orrery, and other noblemen, but were really written by Dr. Goldsmith. He had before this been employed by Wilkie, the bookseller, in conducting a 6 Lady's Magazine," and published with him, a volume of essays, entiled “ The Bee.” To the Public Ledger, a newspaper, of which Kelly was at that time the editor, he contributed those letters which have since been published under the title of “ The Citizen of the World."
In 1765 he published - The Traveller," which at once established his fame. The outline of this he formed when in Switzerland, but polished it with great care, before he submitted it to the public. It soon made him known and admired, but his roving disposition had not yet left him.. He had for some time been musing on a design of pene. trating into the interior parts of Asia, and investigating the remains of ancient grandeur, learning, and manners. When he was told of lord Bute's liberality to men of . genius, he applied to that nobleman for a salary to enable him to execựte his favourite plan, but his application was unnoticed, as his name had not then been made known by his Traveller. This poem, however, having procured him the unsolicited friendship of lord Nugent, afterwards earl of Clare, he obtained an introduction to the earl of Northumberland, then lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who invited our poet to an interview. Goldsmith prepared a complimentary address for his excellency, which, by mistake, he delivered to the groom of the chambers, and when the lord lieutenant appeared, was so confused that he came away without being able to explain the object of his wishes. Sir John Hawkins relates, that when the lord lieutenant said he should be glad to do him any kindness, Goldsmith answered, that “he had a brother in Ireland, a clergyman, that stood in need of help; as for himself, he had no dependence on the promises of great men; he looked to the booksellers; they were his best friends, and he was not inclined to forsake them for others.”—This was yery characteristic of Goldsmith, who, as sir John Hawkins adds, was “an ideot in the affairs of the world,” but yet his affectionate remembrance of his brother on such an occasion merits a less barsh epithet. Goldsmith was grate