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Published in Methuen's Standard Library

in 1905





OLIVER GOLDSMITH, fifth child and second son of a poor Irish clergyman, was born at Pallas, in County Longford, on 10th November 1728. After attending many small country schools in Ireland, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizar in 1744. Impatient of discipline, he was in constant feud with the college authorities, but managed to obtain the degree of B.A. in 1749. After three unsettled years in his native country, he made his way with the help of friends to Edinburgh, where he began the study of medicine in the autumn of 1752. Next year he resolved to pursue his medical studies on the Continent, and succeeded in reaching Leyden. Thence he travelled on foot through parts of Switzerland, France, and Italy. There is little doubt that he mainly lived abroad on the scanty pittance that he earned by playing the flute at inns on the road. He is reported to have taken the degree of M.D. at Padua, and to have engaged in scholastic disputations at more than one foreign university, but precise evidence on these points is wanting. After three years' wanderings he returned to England, but found difficulty in obtaining settled occupation. A brief experience of medical practice in Southwark was followed by an engagement as usher in a school at Peckham kept by a dissenting minister.

From childhood Goldsmith had shown a marked taste for literature, and he finally abandoned teaching to seek his livelihood as a literary hack. At first he was employed by Griffiths, proprietor of the Monthly Review, a leading periodical of the day. In 1759 he published his first book,

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