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Birth and Parentage.— Oliver Goldsmith was born November 10, 1728, in Pallas, a lonely little village about ten miles southeast of Limerick, in Ireland. The family of Goldsmith, though of English descent, had for some generations been settled in Ireland. The poet's father, the Reverend Charles Goldsmith, was a country curate of the Established Church, "passing rich on forty pounds a year," although he had to provide for eight children, of whom Oliver was the fifth. When Oliver was about two years old, his father succeeded to a more lucrative living at Lissoy, County Westmeath, and here the poet's boyhood was spent. Education.

Oliver's systematic education began when he was only three years old. His first teacher was a Miss Elizabeth Delap, a relative of the Goldsmiths, who used to assemble the young children of the village and try to teach them their letters. Apparently little "Noll" did not take kindly to his studies, for Miss Delap often spoke of his dullness and his laziness. At the age of six young Oliver entered the village school, the master of which, Thomas, irreverently known as "Paddy," Byrne, pedantic and eccentric, yet not unlikable and a great story-teller, is forever immortalized in The Deserted Village. Here, too, the poet displayed little liking for the routine of school work, though his budding fondness for books was noticed. From this time on he was entered at this school and that, with his record always the same, "an indifferent student and fond of reckless pranks."

Unfortunately for fond hopes, his career at Trinity College, Dublin, whither he was sent June 11, 1745, was no more distinguished. Owing to scarcity of means at home, Oliver had to enter college as a sizar,- a student employed in menial tasks about the college to defray his expenses in whole or in part. This was a blow to his pride, and, had it not been for the persuasions of his Uncle Thomas Contrarine, Oliver would have refused to apply for entrance.

Studying when and what he saw fit, and always devising frolics and gayeties to while away the time, he naturally fell into disfavor with his teachers. It is said that on one occasion when the poet-to-be was entertaining in his quarters some of his town acquaintances of both sexes, a certain Wilder, Goldsmith's tutor, burst in the door and knocked his pupil down, and that the latter, sorely humiliated, left college, never expecting to return. Through the good offices of his brother Henry, however, he finally went back to take his degree in 1749, graduating as he had entered, the lowest in the list.

Attempts at Various Professions.- Goldsmith was now twenty-one and dependent upon his own talents; his father had died during Oliver's college course; his mother was living upon a meagre pittance at Ballymahon; and his brother Henry, having married and succeeded to the curacy at Pallas, was trying to get along on forty pounds a year. But there was Uncle Contrarine, who had been a staunch friend to his nephew, and to him Oliver turned for advice and funds, chiefly the latter. A University man and a Goldsmith, of course Oliver must enter the Church,- a dictum of the uncle's in which the nephew finally, though somewhat reluctantly, acquiesced. Then followed the usual two years of probation, which the young candidate for orders put to such scant account, except in the gratification of his taste for reading, that the examining bishop found him "unqualified" for admission into the clergy. At the

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solicitation of anxious relatives Oliver then tried the law, with spasmodic attempts at teaching as an avocation.

Three out of the four "learned professions" had now been tried and found wanting; one only was left-medicine. Accordingly, supported by his uncle, in the fall of 1752 Oliver found himself in Edinburgh, enrolled as a "student of physic" at the University. Here he did a little studying—be it said to his credit- but as usual his claim to distinction lay along other channels as a dandy in dress, as a wit and practical joker, and as a leader in wild and foolish pranks. At the end of two years, however, Edinburgh's stock of excitement beginning to pall, Oliver took it into his head to go abroad, and, again aided by his uncle, embarked for Leyden.

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Wanderings. The record of Goldsmith's wanderings survives chiefly in his writings, especially in The Vicar of Wakefield and The Traveller, and from them one may trace his line of travel with some accuracy. In the winter of 1755 he was in Leyden making a pretense at study, but in reality spending most of his time and money at gambling, then the national vice of Holland. His funds giving out and the desire to wander again making its appeal, he set out on foot for a journey through Europe, the whims of fancy his only guide.

It is known that he passed through Antwerp, Maestricht and Brussels. In Paris he lingered for a time, possibly pursuing medical courses. Then he appeared in the lecture halls of some of Germany's most famous universities. Switzerland he visited next, staying a time in Basle, Berne and Geneva. Upper Italy then lured him on, for his pen tells of sojourns at Florence, Verona, Mantua, Milan, Carinthia and Padua; it is possible, too, that he tarried in Rome. How the wanderer paid his way is a matter of interesting conjecture, since he started out from Leyden with only a guinea in his pocket. Perhaps he taught his native language now and then; no doubt he tried gambling; but

his chief dependence was on his flute and songs, with which he charmed the peasants into hospitality. According to Boswell, Johnson's talkative biographer, Goldsmith used to pick up a meal or a night's lodging at this university or that, by "disputing," after the custom of the Middle Ages, on some question of philosophy or ethics. Soon this life of idle roving began to pall, for in February, 1756, after an absence of a little over a year, the poet-to-be was once more walking the streets of London, this time penniless and in rags, but with a medical degree, conferred nobody knows how nor where, possibly at Louvain in Belgium.

Life in London.- The years immediately following Goldsmith's arrival in London were full of shift and makeshift. A doctor with no patients, a chemist's clerk with long hours and short pay, an usher in boarding schools with life made miserable by his gawky appearance and diffident temperament, a bookseller's hack grinding out prefaces and reviews and criticisms with little hope of literary fame,— his occupations were various, and were followed in turn from sheer necessity. But better things were in store. The ease and grace of his style brought him in 1761 the acquaintance of Dr. Samuel Johnson and other eminent men of letters, and a competency by means of the pen seemed a possibility. He took a suite of rooms in the Temple, famed as the quarters of law-clerks, and a little later, in company with a Mr. Bott, a friend interested in literature, rented a country home on Edgware Road. In 1764 the famous Literary Club was started with Goldsmith as one of the nine charter members; the others were Burke, Reynolds, Nugent, Langton, Beauclerc, Chamier, Hawkins and Johnson. Of the club Macaulay says: "The verdicts pronounced by this conclave on new books were speedily known all over London, and were sufficient to sell off a whole edition in a day, or to condemn the sheets to the service of the trunkmaker and the pastry-cook."

Literary Work.- Goldsmith's first literary venture was

the contribution of critical articles to The Monthly Review, a half-literary and a half-political periodical published by one Griffiths, with whom Goldsmith took up his abode, at the sign of the Dunciad, Paternoster Row. This engagement was dissolved at the end of five months, for Griffiths was a driving taskmaster. Goldsmith then joined forces with Dr. Smollett, the famous novelist, and wrote for The Critical Review, the leading Tory organ of the day. In 1759 he published his Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe, a work wide in scope for that day and readable even now because of the charm of its style. In the same. year he launched The Bee, one of the many periodicals of the 18th century similar in plan and purpose to The Tatler and The Spectator, became a contributor to The Busy-body, and for a time edited The Ladies' Magazine. His "Chinese Letters," in which a Chinese student keenly examines many phases of European life, were published in 1762 under the title of A Citizen of the World.

Goldsmith also wrote several biographies and histories, which are read to-day only because of the excellence of his style, as much of his subject matter is worthless. The Life of Beau Nash came from the press in 1762; a History of England, in 1763; a History of Rome, in 1769; the Life of Thomas Parnell and the Life of Lord Bolingbroke, in 1770; a History of Greece, in 1773. A History of Animated Nature was left unfinished at his death. The madeto-order seal is set upon all these works, written, as they were, upon the spur of necessity. The enduring fame of their author is grounded upon his pastoral novel, The Vicar of Wakefield (1776); his two clever comedies, The Good Natured Man (1763), and She Stoops to Conquer (1773); and his two poems, The Traveller (1764), and The Deserted Village (1770). In these products of Goldsmith's pen the joy, rather than the necessity, of writing is the distinguishing mark.

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