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LIFE OF GOLDSMITH

PREFACE

In the course of a revised edition of my works I have come to a biographical sketch of Goldsmith, published several years since. It was written hastily, as introductory to a selection from his writings; and, though the facts contained in it were collected from various sources, I was chiefly indebted for them 5 to the voluminous work of Mr. James Prior, who had collected and collated the most minute particulars of the poet's history with unwearied research and scrupulous fidelity; but had rendered them, as I thought, in a form too cumbrous and overlaid with details and disquisitions, and matters uninteresting to the 10 general reader.

When I was about of late to revise my biographical sketch, preparatory to republication, a volume was put into my hands, recently given to the public by Mr. John Forster, of the Inner Temple, who, likewise availing himself of the labors of the inde- 15 fatigable Prior, and of a few new lights since evolved, has produced a biography of the poet, executed with a spirit, a feeling, a grace, and an eloquence, that leave nothing to be desired. Indeed it would have been presumption in me to undertake the subject after it had been thus felicitously treated, did I not 20 stand committed by my previous sketch.

That sketch now appeared too meagre and insufficient to satisfy public demand; yet it had to take its place in the revised series of my works unless something more satisfactory could be substituted. Under these circumstances I have again taken up the subject, and gone 25 into it with more fulness than formerly, omitting none of the facts which I considered illustrative of the life and character of the poet, and giving them in as graphic a style as I could command. Still the hurried manner in which I have had to do this amidst the pressure of other claims on my attention, and with 30

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the press dogging at my heels, has prevented me from giving some parts of the subject the thorough handling I could have wished. Those who would like to see it treated still more at large, with the addition of critical disquisitions and the advan5 tage of collateral facts, would do well to refer themselves to Mr.

Prior's circumstantial volumes, or to the elegant and discursive pages of Mr. Forster.

For my own part, I can only regret my shortcomings in what to me is a labor of love; for it is a tribute of gratitude to the 10 memory of an author whose writings were the delight of my

childhood, and have been a source of enjoyment to me throughout life; and to whom, of all others, I may address the beautiful apostrophe of Dante to Virgil:

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Tu se' lo mio maestro', e 'l mio autore:

Tu se solo colui, da cu' io tolsi
Lo bello stile, che m'ha fatto onore.

W. I.

SUNNYBIDE, Aug. 1, 1849.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH

CHAPTER I

Birth and Parentage.-Characteristics of the Goldsmith Race.- Poetical

Birthplace.-Goblin House. - Scenes of Boyhood. — Lissoy.- Picture of a Country Parson. — Goldsmith's Schoolmistress. — Byrne, the Village Schoolmaster.-Goldsmith's Hornpipe and Epigram.- Uncle Contarine. - School Studies and School Sports. — Mistakes of a Night.

THERE are few writers for whom the reader feels such personal kindness as for Oliver Goldsmith, for few have so eminently possessed the magic gift of identifying themselves with their writings. We read his character in every page, and grow into familiar intimacy with him as we read. The artless benevo-5 lence that beams throughout his works; the whimsical, yet amiable views of human life and human nature; the unforced humor, blending so happily with good feeling and good sense, and singularly dashed at times with a pleasing melancholy; even the very nature of his mellow, and flowing, and softly-10 tinted style, — all seem to bespeak his moral as well as his intellectual qualities, and make us love the man at the same time that we admire the author. While the productions of writers of loftier pretension and more sounding names are suffered to moulder on our shelves, those of Goldsmith are cherished and 15 laid in our bosoms. We do not quote them with ostentation, but they mingle with our minds, sweeten our tempers, and harmonize our thoughts; they put us in good-humor with ourselves and with the world, and in so doing they make us happier and better men.

An acquaintance with the private biography of Goldsmith lets us into the secret of his gifted pages. We there discover

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