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alternately sources of admiration and amusement, was Goldsmith, They had entered Trinity College within two months of each other; the former, as related, in April, the latter in June, 1744; and though not then particularly acquainted, remembered each other afterwards as being known in the University for the possession of talents, rather than for exerting them. Occasional meetings at Dodsley's renewed the acquaintance, about 1758; and in the Annual Register for the following year, his Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe, is noticed with approbation, as were all his subsequent writings.
With the exception of a little vanity, and a little jealousy, which however from the manner they were shown excited rather laughter than anger, it was difficult to know Goldsmith without liking him, even if the warm regards of Burke, Johnson, and Reynolds were not alone a sufficient stamp of the sterling value of any man.
Humane in disposition, generous to imprudence, careless of his own interests, a chaste and elegant writer who advocated the interests of religion and morals, and who combined with his exhortations as much of practical benevolence as falls to the lot of most men, he was worthy of such friends; at once a rival of their fame and of their virtues. An author by profession, he was characterized by the imprudencies often attendant upon genius. He thought not of the morrow; the “ heaviest of metals” was so light in his estimation as to be carelessly parted with, though laboriously earned. He and poverty had been so long acquainted, that even when an opportunity offered for
casting her off by the success of his pen, they knew not how to separate. He lived too much in pecuniary difficulties, and he died so.
During the term of his literary life, which comprised no more than 16 years, he wrote much and always well, but chiefly of that class of productions intended rather as sacrifices to necessity than to inclination. There is enough indeed left behind him for fame, but much less than for our national glory and individual pleasure, every reader of taste desires. His plays are good ; his poems, novels, and essays, admirable : his histories, as far as they go, infinitely superior to any others of the same abbreviated description. Some persons, on account of the small number of his original works, have been inclined to attribute to him poverty of genius, forgetting his daily wants and the shortness of his career ; but, in fact, no writer of the age displayed more fertility and variety on any subject to which he chose to apply the powers of his mind.
of his mind. And it should also be remembered that he had constantly to write for present bread before he could think of contingent reputation; for, alas! the brain with all its noble and delightful thoughts and aspirations must still seek its support from the more grovelling stomach. He died too at 46, an age at which Johnson was little more than beginning to become known to the public, and after which that great writer completed several of those works which render him the pride of our nation. Had poor Goldsmith lived to attain an equally venerable term of years, there is no doubt, both from his necessities and thirst for distinction, that the national literature would have been enriched much more than it is, by the labours of his pen.
Appointed Private Secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham
Anecdote of the Duke of Newcastle, Mr. Burke's Account of the State of Parties and Politics Success in Parliament, Dismission of the Ministry—Short Account of a short Administration-Visit to Ireland--Anecdotes-His Memory-Gregories - Pamphlet in Reply to Mr. Grenville-Junius–Letters to Barry.
THE moment at length arrived when Mr. Burke gained that opening into public life, which nature and the train of his studies had so eminently qualified him to fill.
Mr. George Grenville's Administration had become unpopular by the proceedings against Mr. Wilkes, by the means resorted to for increasing the revenue, and the supposed secret influence of Lord Bute, when the omission of the Princess Dowager of Wales's name in the Regency Bill then framed on the first paroxysm of that malady which subsequently so much afflicted the king, threw it out, as Mr. Burke, in the letter already quoted, had clearly predicted two months before. Mr. Pitt was then applied to in vain; that imperious, though able minister, scarcely permitting his Majesty to have a voice in the formation of his own councils. The Duke of Cumberland, much esteemed for his good sense and popular deportment, now undertook the formation of a ministry; and, by his express command, and through him, by the direct desire of the King, a
division of the Whigs entered into office under the Marquis of Rockingham.
The body, among whom this nobleman now took the lead, though comprising the chief of the aristocracy of the country, presented at this moment, and for several years afterwards, an unstable and heterogeneous compound of repelling particles. It was split into as many sections as a marching regiment on the parade; but having no other principle of a military body, exhibited only the irregular energy, when it showed any energy at all, of an undisciplined mob; a mass of moral quicksilver without any fixed point of adhesion; the cuttings and parings of all opinions, jumbled into a crude, vacillating, unintelligible whiggism; most of the members being, in fact, a kind of neutral-ground men, so wavering, so undecided, so uncertain in their support, as almost to justify the wish of Mr. Burke, that “ he hoped to God the race was extinct.”
The Marquis, the Duke of Newcastle, and their friends, forming the main division of the party, deemed themselves sound Whigs; the Duke of Bedford professed to be a Whig; the Duke of Grafton called himself a Whig; Mr. George Grenville thought himself a Whig; and Mr. Pitt, if he hung aloof from the name of Whig, was so near to it in substance, that none but himself could distinguish the difference. Each of these had various shades of opinion, and some of their followers, as it proved, no opinions at all; while several, with Charles Townshend, seemed so eager for place, or unsteady in principle, as to be ready, upon the summons, to adopt or surrender any opinions whatever. Statesmen out of office are often in the unlucky predicament of being unable to explain to the satisfaction of the people, their hair's-breadth differences of sentiment with those who are in ; and when they happen to succeed, do not always get as much credit as they expect for utility, novelty, or sincerity, in their views.
Lord Rockingham, doomed to be a leader of shortlived administrations, commanded general respect for the qualities of his heart and manners. He was not a great man, only perhaps because he already enjoyed the chief of the fruits of political greatness—almost the highest rank and the amplest fortune. But were there an order of statesmen set apart from the general class, distinguished for clear views, unwavering integrity, for a sound understanding and an upright mind, who aimed at no brilliancy, and were superior to all duplicity or trick, even to promote a favourite purpose, he would have stood at the head of the list. His knowledge and acquirements were all substantial. He had much for use, though but little for display. His rank in life enabling him to take an enlarged view of the political horizon, he observed keenly, and expressed himself in public, on most occasions, wisely and temperately. Never touching on the extremes of timidity or rashness, he possessed the useful art of knowing exactly how far to go, on party occasions, and where to stop. Whoever had him for an opponent had an honourable one, whom, if he could not convince, he could scarcely disesteem; and as a minister, none could have more unequivocally at heart the good of his country.