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tributed to the British Magazine, &c., and the criticisms published in the Monthly and Critical reviews, both first collected by Sir James Prior; the scene from the 'Grumbler'; the discarded, but very interesting, portion of the 'Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning’; the series of Introductions to Brookes' * Natural 'History’; some other Prefaces; and a new selection from the Animated Nature.'
Two of the Essays of Goldsmith's own collection of 1766, which, strangely enough, were left out of Bishop Percy's edition, and have been omitted from most editions since, will also be found in the present edition.
The ‘Life of Goldsmith 'prefixed was originally given with the edition of Goldsmith's Works published by Mr. Bohn in 1848. Revised and corrected as to matters of fact it re-appears, still having the author's signature, “H. B.,” appended. Some of H. B.'s notes are also retained, and appear with the signature “ B.”
The eccentricities of Goldsmith's character, and his unsettled habits, have imparted to his history an air of romance, which seldom belongs to the record of a scholar's life. A restless love of adventure, joined with incorrigible imprudence, was perpetually involving him in difficulties; while he alternately extorted the admiration of the world by the excellence of his writings, and exposed himself to general ridicule by the absurdity of his conduct. The story of his life has acquired additional interest for the lovers of the marvellous, through the carelessness or credulity of his earlier biographers, who have sometimes admitted into their narrative adventures which are either purely imaginary, or which properly belong to some other hero. Such idle stories are readily circulated of those who have attained sufficient eminence to make them the objects of public curiosity; and Goldsmith's high reputation as an author, together with his remarkable peculiarities, and the uncertainty which prevailed in regard to several events of his life, made him a valuable subject for those ingenious gentlemen who manufacture biographical sketches for the magazines, or draw upon a lively imagination for literary anecdotes to enliven the columns of a newspaper. For the present memoir, less questionable authorities have been consulted. In the general narrative we have principally followed the account written by Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, who was himself a personal friend of Goldsmith, and who derived a great part of his materials from the poet's own family and relations ; and such anecdotes as we have introduced, illustrative of his peculiar habits and temper, are extracted from the pages of those among his literary acquaintance with whom he lived on terms of the most intimate familiarity. Fortunately such notices are pretty numerous; his literary reputation, and the singularity of his appearance and manners, secured for him a niche in almost every volume of contemporary biography; yet every lover of polite literature must regret that still more minute details have not been recorded of an author so distinguished for the variety and excellence of his writings. A genius all but universal enabled him to cultivate almost every branch of study, with a success which proves that there is no necessary connection between versatility and mediocrity of talent; and which amply justifies the eulogium of Dr. Johnson, that he left scarcely any species of writing unattempted or unadorned by his pen.
Oliver Goldsmith was born November 10, 1728, at Pallas in the parish of Ferney, or Forney, and county of Longford, in Ireland. His father, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, was a clergyman of the established church, and had received his education at Trinity College, Dublin. This gentleman was a native of Roscommon, which has led to the common mistake that our poet was born in that county. By an early marriage he sacrificed his hopes of college preferment, and burdened himself with a family before he had secured the means of supporting one. His wife was Anne, daughter of the Rev. Oliver Jones, master of the diocesan school of Elphin, and by her he had five sons, of whom Oliver was the second, and three daughters. For some time after their marriage, Mr. Charles Goldsmith and his wife lived at the house of her uncle, the Rev. Mr. Green, who was rector of Kilkenny West, in the county of Westmeath, to which living he himself
1 We allude to the Life prefixed to the edition of Goldsmith's Miscel laneous Works,' in 4 vols. 8vo., published by the London booksellers in 1801, which, though anonymous, is known to have been principally contributed by Bishop Percy.
2 Nullum fere scribendi genus non tetigit, nullum quod tetigit non ornavit.—See his Epitaph, p. 40.
3 The monument in Westminster Abbey errs both in the year and day of the month of his birth. Percy corrected as regards the year from the evidence of Goldsmith's sister; and afterwards Prior got access to Charles Goldsmith's family bible, then in the possession of Dr. Neligan, the poet's grand-nephew, where was recorded the date now accepted as that of Goldsmith's birth, viz., Nov. 10, 1728.-ED.