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present follies as instances of my regard. Poetry is a much easier and more agreeable species of composition than prose; and, could a man live by it, it were not unpleasant employment to be a poet. I am resolved to leave no space, though I should fill it up only by telling you, what you very well know already, I mean that I am your most affectionate friend and brother,
6 OLIVER GOLDSMITH.”
The “Life of Voltaire,” alluded to in the latter part of the preceding letter, was the literary job undertaken to satisfy the demands of Griffiths. It was to have preceded a translation of the “ Henriade,” by Ned Purdon, Goldsmith's old schoolmate,
à Grub-Street writer, who starved rather than lived by the exercise of his pen, and often tasked Goldsmith's scanty means to relieve his hunger. His miserable career was summed up by our poet in the following lines written some years after the time we are treating of, on hearing that he had suddenly dropped dead in Smith
“ Here lies poor Ned Purdon, from misery freed,
Who long was a bookseller's hack;
I don't think he 'll wish to come back." The memoir and translation, though advertised to form a volume, were not published together, but appeared separately in a magazine.
As to the heroi-comical poem, also, cited in the foregoing letter, it appears to have perished in embryo. Had it been brought to maturity, we
should have had further traits of autobiography;
Invites each passing stranger that can pay;
It is to be regretted that this poetical conception was not carried out; like the author's other writings, it might have abounded with pictures of life and touches of nature drawn from his own observation and experience, and mellowed by his own humane and tolerant spirit ; and might havo been a worthy companion or rather contrast to his “ Traveller” and “ Deserted Village," and have remained in the language a first-rate specimen of the mock-heroic.
Publication of “ The Inquiry."— Attack by Griffiths' Review.
Kenrick the Literary Ishmaelite. — Periodical Literature. Goldsmith's Essays. — Garrick as a Manager. --Smollett and his Schemes. — Change of Lodgings. — The Robin Hood Club.
OWARDS the end of March, 1759, the
treatise on which Goldsmith had laid so
much stress, on which he at one time had calculated to defray the expenses of his outfit to India, and to which he had adverted in his correspondence with Griffiths, made its appearance. It was published by the Dodsleys, and entitled “ An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe."
In the present day, when the whole field of contemporary literature is so widely surveyed and amply discussed, and when the current productions of every country are constantly collated and ably criticised, a treatise like that of Goldsmith would be considered as extremely limited and unsatisfactory; but at that time it possessed novelty in its views and wideness in its scope, and being indued with the peculiar charm of style inseparable from the author, it commanded public attention and a profitable sale. As it was the most important production that had yet come from Goldsmith's pen, he was anxious to have the credit of it; yet it
appeared without his name on the title-page. The authorship, however, was well known throughout the world of letters, and the author had now grown into sufficient literary importance to become an object of hostility to the underlings of the press. One of the most virulent attacks upon him was in a criticism on this treatise, and appeared in the “ Monthly Review” to which he himself had been recently a contributor. It slandered him as a man while it decried him as an author, and accused him, by innuendo, of "laboring under the infamy of having, by the vilest and meanest actions, forfeited all pretensions to honor and honesty," and of practising " those acts which bring the sharper to the cart's tail or the pillory.”
It will be remembered that the Review was owned by Griffiths the bookseller, with whom Goldsmith had recently had a misunderstanding. The criticism, therefore, was no doubt dictated by the lingerings of resentment; and the imputations upon Goldsmith's character for honor and honesty, and the vile and mean actions hinted at, could only allude to the unfortunate pawning of the clothes. All this, too, was after Griffiths had received the affecting letter from Goldsmith, drawing a picture of his poverty and perplexities, and after the latter had made him a literary compensation. Griffiths, in fact, was sensible of the falsehood and extravagance of the attack, and tried to exonerate himself by declaring that the criticism was written by a person in his employ ; but we see no difference in atrocity between him who wields the knife and him who hires the cut
A LITERARY ISHMAELITE.
throat. It may be well, however, in passing, to bestow our mite of notoriety upon the miscreant who launched the slander. He deserves it for a long course of dastardly and venomous attacks, not merely upon Goldsmith, but upon most of the successful authors of the day. His name was Kenrick. He was originally a mechanic, but possessing some degree of talent and industry, applied himself to literature as a profession. This he pursued for many years, and tried his hand in every department of prose and poetry; he wrote plays and satires, philosophical tracts, critical dissertations, and works on philology; nothing from his pen ever rose to first-rate excellence, or gained him a popular name, though he received from some university the degree of Doctor of Laws. Dr. Johnson characterized his literary career in one short sentence. “ Sir, he is one of the many who have made themselves public without making themselves known.”
Soured by his own want of success, jealous of the success of others, his natural irritability of temper increased by habits of intemperance, he at length abandoned himself to the practice of reviewing, and became one of the Ishmaelites of the press. In this his malignant bitterness soon gave him a notoriety which his talents had never been able to attain. We shall dismiss him for the present with the following sketch of him by the hand of one of his contemporaries :
“ Dreaming of genius which he never had,