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OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

CHAPTER I.

THE Education, Adventures, and Mischances, of Oliver Goldsmith, from his

Childhood till he stood Friendless and Penniless,“ in the Lonely, Terrible Streets of London."

MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN,

I have the happiness of meeting at the commencement of a new year, the friends and members of this flourishing Christian Association, assembled under encouraging auspices. Your Society has been well begun, wisely conducted, eminently successful, and will stand the test of time and of experience. The presence of His Excellency proves, that whatever tends to promote the moral and intellectual culture of the youth of our city, will receive his approval and support. I rejoice in being permitted to add my humble labours in promotion of the cause you have at heart. To cultivate, in our several conditions of life, the intellectual faculties which the Almighty has bestowed upon us, is no less a duty, than their right application, when by culture and by study they have attained the highest pitch of refinement and perfection.

We are met to-night to review the history of Oliver Gold

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smith; to examine how he waged the battle of life—how he succeeded or why he failed—to measure the size of his understanding, to observe its growth and power—to glance at his writings in prose and in poetry—to consider his character, moralizing on the lesson it affords; and then, while we do homage to his genius, while with grateful hearts we acknowledge the lasting service he has done to literature, religion and truth, we may drop a tear over the indiscretions and misfortunes which brought the poet to an untimely grave. We must trace the early career of Goldsmith in order correctly to understand his writings. To compose the biography of a celebrated person would be a delightful exercise of the mind qualified for such a task; next to the achievement of illustrious actions is their felicitous narration-the pen of Tacitus was never used with so much elegance as in sketching the virtues and glories of Agricola, moreover in the biography of an eminent individual those peculiarities, virtues, foibles may be noticed, which could not be approached in the grandeur or vastness of historical composition. The Life of Goldsmith has been written by Mr. Prior, with whom I had the pleasure of being acquainted, by Mr Forster, who was my early and intimate friend, by Mr. Washington Irving the accomplished American author, by Macaulay the historian, whose brilliant pen is now motionless for ever, and almost while I speak, an admirable sketch of the poet (ascribed to Mr. Waller our fellow citizen) has been published in the Dictionary of Universal Biography; notwithstanding these biographies and

many sketches by inferior artists, the right book was not written-at the right time by the right man. That book should have been penned immediately after the Poet's death-it should have been the tribute of friendship-of learning-of kindred genius, and therefore the performance of Dr. Samuel Johnson. The Lives of the Poets attest his fitness for such a

task, his feeling heart would have warmed with his subject, his inflexible adherence to truth would have commanded assent to his statements, his knowledge of Goldsmith's character, his admiration for true genius, his high morality, deep scholarship and familiarity with the writings of Goldsmith, would have given a peculiar charm to his biography of the Poet, and would have been the imperishable tribute which one man of intellect can pay to the memory of another. An autobiography from Goldsmith's pen would have been still more acceptable. Now while thankful for what we possess, we must deplore the loss of an invaluable correspondence, and of many facts which might have been ascertained immediately after Goldsmith's death, but which are now irrecoverably lost. I may

add that as Johnson would have written the best life of Goldsmith, so would Goldsmith have been the best biographer of Johnson.

Oliver Goldsmith was born at Pallas, a short distance from the unclassic village of Ballymahon, in the county of Longford, or according to Dr. Strean (who held the parish of Kilkenny West, for fifteen years) at Ardnagan, county of Roscommon, on the 11th November, 1728. He was wont in after life to say, that he was connected with no less celebrated a personage than the Protector Oliver Cromwell, from whom his Christian name was derived-by his father's side, he claimed affinity with Wolfe, the conqueror of Quebec, whose mother was a Goldsmith. If this account be accurate, few persons could boast of ancestors better known, or in their respective spheres more highly distinguished. Of his immediate ancestors not a few had been ministers of the Church of England. His father, the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, was a gentleman and a scholar--he had been creditably distinguished in our University, is said to have been acquainted with the poet Parnell, and with Thomas, grandfather of Richard Brinsley

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Sheridan, not the least brilliant of our countrymen. His uncle, the Rev. Thomas Contarine, deserves to be particularly noticed; he was sprung from a noble family in Venice, and the singular history of his grandfather, who married a nun, and then fled from persecution, is worthy perusal. The grandchild of this strange marriage became a beneficed clergyman, and had been in the university the college companion of Bishop Berkeley, one of the best—wisest—greatest prelates of our Church. The enthusiastic Berkeley selected Contarine to attend him in the hazardous experiment of ascertaining the degree of pain suffered during strangulation, on which occasion he saved the life of the philosopher; Contarine therefore deserves to be held in the grateful recollection of posterity. This excellent man rebuked the false pride of Oliver, when he murmured at being a sizar, by informing the sensitive youth that he too had been a sizar, and that it had not availed to withhold from him the friendship of the great and good.

Charles Goldsmith settled at Pallas, or Pallasmore, in the county named-married happily—had a numerous family was pious and industrious, and passing rich“ with forty pounds a year.” Shortly after the birth of Oliver his father succeeded to the rectory of Kilkenny West, in which was situated Lissoy, midway between Ballymahon and Athlone, in the county of Westmeath—there the poet fixed his Auburnthere he saw in childhood the scenes, which when a man he stamped with everlasting beauty. Although we have not his autobiography, we have from Oliver what we may accept as a sketch of his father's character, and of the lessons by him imprinted on the mind of his susceptible child, lessons which produced such remarkable effect on his conduct through life. In the Citizen of the World, there is given in letter twenty-seven “ The History of the Man in Black," whose benevolence, writes Oliver, seemed to be rather the effect of

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