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LIFE AND WRITINGS
There are few writers for whom the reader feels such personal kindness as for Oliver Goldsmith. The fascinating ease and simplicity of his style; the benevolence that beams through every page; the whimsical
amiable views of human life and human nature; the mellow unforced humour, blended so happily with good feeling and good sense, throughout his writings ; win their way irresistibly to the affections and carry the author with them. While writers of greater pretensions and more sounding names are suffered to lie upon our shelves, the works of Goldsmith are cherished and laid in our bosoms. We do not quote them with ostentation, but they mingle with our minds; they sweeten our tempers and harmonize our thoughts ; they put us in good humour with ourselves and with the world, and in so doing they make us happier and better men.
We have been curious therefore in gathering together all the heterogeneous particulars concerning poor Goldsmith that still exist; and seldom have we met with an author's life more illustrative of his works, or works more faithfully illustrative of
the author's life.' His rambling biography displays him the same kind, artless, good-humoured, excursive, sensible, whimsical, intelligent being that he appears in his writings. Scarcely an adventure or a character is given in his page
that be traced to his own parti-coloured story. Many of his most ludicrous scenes and ridiculous incidents have been drawn from his own blunders and mischances, and he seems really to have been buffeted into almost every maxim imparted by him for the instruction of his readers.
Oliver Goldsmith was a native of Ireland, and was born on the 29th of November, 1728. Two villages claim the honour of having given him birth: Pallas, in the county of Longford; and Elphin, in the county of Roscommon. The former is named as the place in the epitaph by Dr Johnson, inscribed on his monument in Westminster Abbey; but later investigations have decided in favour of Elphin.
He was the second son of the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, a clergyman of the established church, but without any patrimony. His mother was daughter of the Rev. Oliver Jones, master of the diocesan school at Elphin. It was not till some time after the birth of Oliver that his father obtained the living of Kilkenny-West, in the county of Westmeath. Previous to this period he and his wife appear to have been almost entirely dependent on her relations for support.
His father was equally distinguished for his literary attainments and for the benevolence of his heart. His family consisted of five sons and two daughters. From this little world of home Goldsmith has drawn many of his domestic scenes, both whimsical and touching, which appeal so forcibly to the heart, as well as to the fancy; his father's fireside furnished many of the family scenes of the Vicar of Wakefield; and it is said that the learned simplicity and amiable peculiarities of that worthy divine have been happily illustrated in the character of Dr Primrose.
' The present biography is principally taken from the Scotch edition of Goldsmith's works, published in 1821.