« PreviousContinue »
he fell into a fit of despondence, and survived him but a few weeks. He died on the 15th of December, 1764, at the age of 31 ; and was buried on the 19th, in the church-yard of St. Bride's parish.
“Mr. Lloyd,” says Mr. Wilkes, “ was mild and affable in private life, of
gentle manners, and very engaging in conversation. He was an excellent “ scholar, an easy natural poet. His peculiar excellence was the dressing
up an old thought in a new, neat, and trim manner. He was contented " to scamper round. the foot of Parnassus on his little Welch poney, which '“ seems never to have tired. He left the fury of the winged steed, and the “ daring flights of the sacred mountain, to the sublime genius of his friend “ Churchill."
JOHN CUNNINGHAM was born at Dublin in the year 1729. His
father was a wine-cooper in moderate circumstances, who, having obtained a prize in the lottery, commenced wine-merchant, and in a short time became a bankrupt. The small education our author received was at the grairmar-school of Drogheda, under Mr. Clark. On the failure of his father he was recalled to Dublin, where, having no certain employment, he became attached to the theatre; and before he arrived at the age of seventeen years, produced a drama intituled, “ Love in a Mist,” performed several nights at the theatre in Smock Alley. By means of this performance having introduced himself to an acquaintance with the actors, he was pre. vailed on to engage with an itinerant manager, with whom he came to England; and in this profession he continued, with little variation, until his death.
As an actor he obtained little reputation. His figure was totally against him, either for tragedy or genteel comedy. His diffidence was too great to be ever overcome; and his voice was dissonant and offensive to the ear. He is said, however, to have shewn, in general, a good conception of his author, and as the representative of a mock French character, was not wholly undeserving of praise.
After he had published some of his best performances, he acquired reputation enough to receive an invitation from some booksellers in London, who proposed to employ him in some works of literature, by which he might obtain a livelihood, in a manner more easy and honourable than that in which he had been hitherto engaged. Convinced of the propriety of acceding to this proposal, he repaired from Edinburgh to London; but had hardly set foot in the capital before he was satisfied of the inpracticability of the scheme. The bookseller by whom he was to have been employed had stopped payment; and the attention of the public was so entirely engrossed by scandal and political altercation, that he left the town with precipitation after a short and disagreeable stay in it, and once more rejoined his friends in the North.
This was the only effort he ever made to emerge from the abject situation in which youthful imprudence had originally placed him. But with this state he appeśred by no means dissatisHed. Competence and obscurity were all he desired. He had no views of ambition; and indolence had possessed him so entirely, that he never made a second attempt. In a letter to a friend he describes himself in these terms: “ You may remember my last expedi« tion to London. I think I may be convinced by it that I am not calcu“ lated for the business you mention. Though I scribble (but a little nei" ther) to amuse myself, the moment I considered it as my duty it would “ cease to be an amusement, and I should of consequence be weary on't. 'I “ am not enterprizing; and tolerably happy in my present situation.”
The remainder of his life passed in one uniform strain. A few months before his death, being incapable of any theatrical exertion, he was removed to the house of his friend Mr Slack, of Newcastle, who with great kindness received him under his roof, and paid every attention to him which his state required. After lingering some time under a nervous disorder, during which he burnt all his papers, he died the 18th of September, 1773, and was buried in St. John's church-yard, Newcastle, where, on a tombstone erected to his memory, is the following inscription :
Here lie the remains of
Of his excellence
As a pastoral poet,
After this temporary tribute of esteem
Is in dust forgotten.
MATTHEW GREEN was of a family of good repute amongst the Dis
senters, and had his education in that sect. He wa, a man of approved probity, and sweetness of temper and manners. His wit abounded in conversation, and was never known to give the least offence. He had a post in the Custom-house, and discharged the duty there with the utmost diligence and ability. He died about 1737, at the age of 41 years, in Nag's-head-court, Grace-church-street.
To the above account, which was furnished by Mr. Glover, author of “ Leonidas,” it may be added, that Mr. Green had not much learning, but knew a little Latin. He was very subject to the hyp, had some free notions on religious subjects; and, though bred amongst the Dissenters, grew disgusted at the preciseness and formality of the sect. He was nephew to Mr. Tanner, clerk of Fishmonger's-Hall. His poem intituled “Spleen" was written by piece-meal; and would never have been compleated, had he not been pressed to it by his friend Mr. Glover. By this gentleman, (who pose sessed, as he informed a person just before his death, many manuscripts of Mr. Green) it was committed to the press.
Mr. Green published nothing in his life-time. In 1732 he printed and gave away a few copies of “ The Grotto.” It has been observed by Mr. Melmoth, that there are more original thoughts thrown together in the poem of “ Spleen," than he had ever read in the same compass of lines.
In the “European Magazine” for July 1785, are some further anecdotes of our author.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH was the third son of the Rev. Charles Gold
smith, and was born at Elphin, in the county of Roscommon in Ireland, in the year 1729. After being instructed in the ciassicks at the school of Mr. Hughes, he was admitted as Sizer in Trinity College, Dublin, the 11th of
June, 1744 ; and on the 27th of February, 1749, 0. S. two years after the : regular time, he obtained the degree of bachelor of arts. Intending to
devote himself to the study of physick, he left Dublin, and proceeded to Edinburgh in 1751, where he continued until the beginning of the year 1754, when, having imprudently engaged to pay a considerable sum of money for a fellow student, he was obliged precipitately to quit the place.
He made his escape as far as Sunderland, but there was overtaken by the emissaries of the law, and arrested. From this situation he was released by the friendship of Mr. Laughlin Maclane and Dr. Sleigh. He then took his passage on board a Dutch ship to Rotterdam; from whence, after a short stay he proceeded to Brussels. He then visited great part of Flanders; and after passing some time at Strasburgh and Louvain, where he obtained a degree of bachelor of physick, he accompanied an English gentleman to Geneva.
This tour, we are told, was made for the most part on foot." He had left England with little money; and being of a thoughtless turn, and at that time possessing a body capable of sustaining any fatigue, he proceeded resolutely in gratifying his curiosity by the sight of different countries. He had some knowledge of the French Language, and of musick: he played tolerably well on the German flute, which now at times became the means of his subsistence. His learning produced him a hospitable reception at most of the religious houses that he visited, and his music made him welcome to the peasants of Flanders and Germany. “Whenever I approached a peasant's house toward nightfall," he used to say, “ I played one of my most merry
tunes ; and that generally procured me not only a lodging, but subsis"tence for the next day: but, in truth, (his constant expression) I must own, whenever I attempted to entertain persons of a higher rank, they
always always thought my performance odious, and never made me any return “ for my endeavours to please them."
On his arrival at Geneva he was recommended as a proper person for a travelling tutor to a young gentleman, who had unexpectedly been left a considerable sum of money by a near relation. This connexion lasted but a short time: they disagreed in the South of France, and parted. Friendless and destitute. Dr. Goldsmith was again left exposed to all the miseries of indigence in a foreign country. He, however, bore them with great fortitude ; and, having by this time satisfied his curiosity abroad, he bent his course towards England, and arrived at Dover the beginning of the year 1758.
On his return he found himself so poor that it was with difficulty he was enabled to reach the metropolis with a few half-pence only in his pocket. He was an entire stranger, and without any recommendation. He offered himself to several apothecaries in the character of a journeyman, but had the mortification to find every application without success. At length he was admitted into the house of a chemist, and was employed in his laboratory until he discovered the residence of his friend Dr. Sleigh, who patronized and supported him. He afterwards was an assistant to Dr. Milner, who kept an academy at Peckham ; but, being introduced to some booksellers, he relinquished his situation at the school, and commenced author. His first works were “ The Bee," a weekly pamphlet, and “ The Enquiry into the pre“sent State of polite Literature in Europe.” He then resided in Greenarbour-court, near the Old-baily, from whence he removed to the Temple, where he lived during the rest of his life.
From the year 1759 to the time of his death his works were very numerous, and on a great variety of subjects. In 1765 he established his fame by the publication of “ The Traveller.” In 1766 “ The Vicar of Wakefield" appeared. In 1768 “ The Goodnatured Man" was acted at Covent Garden. In 1769 he published “ The Deserted Village,” and in 1772 “She Stoops " to Conquer” was represented at the same theatre. Besides these, he submitted to the drudgery of compiling Histories of England, of Greece, of Rome, of “ The Earth and Animated Nature," which procured for hina more money than fame. Just before his death he had formed a design for executing an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; a plan which met with no encouragement.
Though his writings produced great emolument, he was generally necessitous ; to which an improvident generosity, and a ridiculous habit of gaming a good deal contributed. He had been for some years afflicted with a strangury, which brought on a kind of habitual despondency. At length in March 1774, finding himself out of order, lie, against the advice of his physician, took so large a portion of a medicine of violent operation, that it was supposed to have contributed to his dissolution on the 4th of April, 1774. He was buried in the Temple Church-yard, and a monument has been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.