1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 1:198-99.



Every thing which relates to men of genius is interesting to the admirers of science, even their abodes, though humble in the extreme, when contemplated, call forth the most lively emotions.

Who will not walk up to the Break-neck Stairs, between Seacoal Lane and the Old Bailey, with the greater pleasure, when he knows that it will conduct him to Green Arbour Court, where Goldsmith wrote his Vicar of Wakefield, and his Traveller? A friend of Goldsmith's once paying him a visit to this place (March, 1759,) found him in a lodging so poor and miserable, that he said he should not have thought it proper to mention the circumstance, had he not considered it the highest proof of Goldsmith's genius and talents, by the bare exertion of which, under every disadvantage, he gradually emerged from obscurity, not only to enjoy the comforts, but even the luxuries of life, and an introduction into the best societies in the metropolis.

At the time the Doctor was writing his Inquiry into the present State of Polite Learning, he resided in a wretched dirty room, in which there was but one chair; and when he, from civility, offered it to a visitant, he was obliged to seat himself at the window. Such were the privations to which one of the first literary geniuses Ireland ever produced was heir to; but Goldsmith, more fortunate than many of his brethren, outlived them.