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of one or two other individuals from the list of the cultivators of elegant literature, whose rise to eminence has been, in like manner, impeded for a time by an untoward fortune. Dr. HAWKESWORTH, one of the most popular writers of the last century, and whose periodical work, the “ Adventurer,” entitles him to a high place among English essayists, was originally a watchmaker, and afterward became clerk to a writing stationer, in which situation it was that he commenced his career as an author by some communications which he sent to the “Gentleman's Magazine.” From this beginning he made his way, by the persevering exertion of his talents, both to distinction and to considerable wealth. Hawkesworth must have been indebted for his literary acquirements almost entirely to himself. Together with his name may be quoted that of his much more distinguished contemporary, Dr. GOLDSMITH, who was, however, more regularly educated. Goldsmith was one of nine children of a very poorly endowed clergyman of the church of Ireland, in which country he was born in the year 1728. Of academical instruction he had his full share; for he attended successively the universities of Dublin, Edinburgh, and Leyden. At the two last-mentioned places he studied medicine, which he had chosen as his profession, after having been originally intended for trade, and then successively for the church and the law. His eccentric, imprudent, and reckless habits, however, which had been constantly involving him in one difficulty or other from his boyhood, acquired strength with his years; and he had not been long at Leyden when he found himself reduced by his thoughtlessness and extravagance to a state of destitution, as bad as that which a short time before had forced him to take flight from Edinburgh. On this he left the university, and set out to travel over the Continent, possessed of nothing in the world but the clothes he wore and his flute. It was on the latter he depended for his support, his practice being, when, after walking all day, he arrived at a village in the evening, to assemble the inhabitants around him to dance to his music, in return for which they generally gave him lodgings for the night and where. withal to procure him food for the next day. In this manner he walked
a great part of Flanders, the south of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. At last he arrived in London with, it is said, only a few pence in his pocket. In this emergency he was fortunate enough to meet with his countryman and college acquaintance, Dr. Sleigh, and by the aid of this gentleman he obtained the situation of assistant teacher in a school at Peckham. Soon afterward he offered his services to an apothecary in the metropolis, and with him he lived for some time. It was while in this situation that he first turned his thoughts to literary labour as a means of support. He began by writing for the Monthly Review and the Public Leger, to which last he contributed the series of essays in the form of letters from a Chinese residing in England to his friends in China, which were afterward collected and published under the title of the “ Citizen of the World.” He had been employed in this manner for several years, gaining only a scanty and precarious livelihood, when, in 1765, he published his celebrated poem "The Traveller.” This immediately brought him into notice, and placed him among the first writers of the day. He had now better employment, and as much as he could undertake; but, his improvidence continuing as great as before, his difficulties were not much diminished. The very year following that in which the Traveller appeared, Dr. Johnson found him unable to leave his lodgings in consequence of a debt he had contracted, and to pay which his kind friend disposed of the manuscript of his “Vicar of Wakefield.” That exquisitely beautiful tale accordingly appeared in 1766; and soon after was published his
"History of England,” in a series of letters from a nobleman to his son, which immediately excited great attention and became extremely popular. From this time till his death, Goldsmith gave to the world a succession of works, which prove that, with all his faults, a want of industry cannot be laid to his charge. His comedy of the Good-natured Man, a History of Rome, and another History of England, in four volumes, the poem of the Deserted Village, the comedy of She stoops to Conquer, a History of Greece, and his four volumes entitled a History of Animated Nature, besides abridgments of his different historical works, and numerous minor pieces in prose and verse, all proceeded from his pen between the years 1768 and 1774, in the latter of which he died at the early age of forty-six. Nor are even those of the works we have enumerated, which partake most of the character of mere compilations, unmarked by many traces of the author's genius. Goldsmith, as Johnson has said of him on his monument in Westminster Abbey, touched no subject which he did not adorn. The purity and elegance of his style, and the chastity, in all respects, of his manner as a writer, form a remarkable contrast to what we are told of his general conduct and de
The dissimilarity is said to have been equally great between the wit, spirit, and good sense of his literary productions and the eccentricity of his conversation, which is described as sometimes approaching to childishness. But Goldsmith was an extraordinary instance how perfect the reflective or meditative powers of the mind will sometimes be, while those which fit à man for the business of active life are weak or wanting. A mere child as he seemed when called upon to exert the latter, in the ease with which he wielded the former he had few equals and no superior. As his friend Johnson used to say of him, with his pen in his hand he was a sage, without it a fool. Most of Goldsmith’s fole
lies, however, were the results of a simplicity and good-nature which did no dishonour to his heart, however they may have impeded his advancement in the world. From the time he rose into notice as a writer till his death, he was the prey of his poor brethren of the quill, who, when he had received any money for his
orks, borrowed or begged from him his last sixpence. Nay, he was often wont, it is said, to borrow money to satisfy these plunderers. The consequence was, that he was always in difficulties, which he certainly needed not to have been if he could have taken better care of his gains; for he was both one of the most successful and, as we have seen, one of the most industrious literary labourers of the day. Considering, indeed, the idle and wandering life he had so long led, Goldsmith's comparatively steady application in the latter years of his life, as testified by what he actually accomplished, deserves to be accounted not a little remarkable. It is probable, however, from the knowledge and general cultivation of mind which he displayed even in his first literary works, that he must long have been a more diligent student than we should be inclined to think, from the general sketch that has been handed down to us of his early history.
The persons with whom we have been occupied in the chapters immediately preceding the present, have all belonged to what may also be called our own times: or, at least, their pursuits have been such as indicate an advanced state of literature,
philosophy, and civilization generally. It is only within the last two or three centuries that anything like a spirit of independent speculation has formed a pervading characteristic of the literature of modern Europe. Up to that period the intellect of our forefathers may be said, in most of its efforts, to have walked in leading-strings. The peculiar circumstanoes in which literature sprung up a second time in western Europe after the subversion of the Roman empire, sufficiently explain why it remained so long in a state of pupilage. But the extended period in modern history called the Dark Ages was only the night of the human mind, and by no means its sleep, as it has sometimes been described. The numbers of those who then dedicated themselves to literary pursuits were very great, and their zeal and industry in many cases such as has never been surpassed.
One of the most extraordinary individuals that appeared during the dark ages was ROGER BACON ; and his history affords so admirable an example of the successful pursuit of knowledge in the midst of all sorts of difficulties and discouragements, that we shall devote a few pages to present it with some fulness of detail. Bacon was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, England, in the year 1214. After remaining for some years at the University of Oxford, he went to finish his education at that of Paris, then the most distinguished seat of learning in Europe. Here he received his doctor's degree; after which he returned to own country, and, entering himself a brother of the Franciscan order, again took up his residence at Oxford. At this time all the four orders of mendicant friars had establishments both at Oxford and Cambridge; and their members were, in truth, especially the Franciscans, the great support and ornaments of both universities. At the period, however, when Bacon commenced his career, the Aristotelian metaphysics and