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the weak against the encroachments of power. What concerns the public most properly admits of a public discussion. But, of late, the press has turned from defending public interest, to making inroads upon private life ; from combating the strong, to overwhelming the feeble. No condition is now too obscure for its aluse, and the protector is become the tyrant of the people. In this manner the freedom of the press is beginning to sow the seeds of its own dissolution; the great must oppose it from principle, and the weak from fear; till at last every rank of mankind shall be found to give up its benefits, content with security from its insults.
“ How to put a stop to this licentiousness, by which all are indiscriminately abused, and by which vice consequently escapes in the general censure, I am unable to tell; all I could wish is, that, as the law gives us no pro: tection against the injury, so it should give calumniators no shelter after having provoked correction, . The insults which we receive before the public, by being more open; are the more distressing. By treating them with silent contempt, we do not pay a sufficient deference to the opinion of the world. By recurring to legal redress, we too often expose the weakness of the law, which only serves to increase our mortification by failing to relieve us. In short, every man should singly consider himself as a guerdian of the liberty of the press, and, as far as his influence can extend, should endeavour to prevent its licentiousness becoming at last the grave of its freedom.
Mr. Boswell having intimated to Dr. Johnson his suspicions that he was the real writer
of this Address, the latter said, “ Sir, Dr. Goldsmith would no more have asked me to have written such a thing as that for him, than he would have asked me to feed him with a spoon, or to do any thing else that denoted his imbecility. I as much believe that he wrote it, as if I had seen him do it. Sir, had he shewn it to any one friend, he would not have been allowed to publish it. He has indeed done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done. I suppose he has been so much elated with the success of his new comedy, that he has thought every thing that concerns him must be of importance to the public."
About a month after this, to oblige Mr. Quick, the comedian, who had very successfully exerted himself in the character of Tony Lumpkin, Goldsmith, we believe, reduced Sedley's “ Grumbler" to a farce; and it was performed for Mr. Quick's benefit on the 8th of May, but was never printed : indeed, some persons doubt whether Goldsmith did more than revise an alteration which had been made by some other per
Our author now, oddly enough, took it into his head to reject the title of Doctor (with which he had been self-invested), and to assume the plain address of Mr. Goldsmith; but whatever his motive to this might be, he could not effect it with the public, who to the day of his death called him Doc
and the same title is usually annexed to his name even now, though the degree of Bachelor of Physic was the highest ever actually conferred upon him.
After having compiled a History of Rome, and two Histories of England, he undertook, and completed in 1773, “ An History of the Earth and Animated Nature,” in 8 vols. 8vo. which was printed in 1774, and he received for it 8501.
The emoluments which he had derived from his writings for some few years past were, indeed, very considerable; but were rendered useless in effect, by an incautious liberality, which prevented his distinguishing proper from improper objects of his bounty; and also by an unconquerable itch for gaming, a pursuit in which his impa
tience of temper, and his want of skill, wholly disqualified him for succeeding.
His last production, “ Retaliation,” was written for his own amusement, and that of his friends who were the subjects of it. That he did not live to finish it is to be lamented; for it issupposed that he would have introduced more characters. What he has left, however, is nearly perfect in its kind; with wonderful art he has traced all the leading features of his several portraits, and given with truth the characteristic peculiarities of each: no man is lampooned, and no man is flattered. The occasion of the poem was a circumstance of festivity. A literary party with which he occasionally dined at the St. James's coffee-house one day proposed to write epitapbs on him. In these, his person, dialect, &c. were good-humouredly ridiculed; and as Goldsınith could not disguise his feelings on the occasion, he was called upon for a Retaliation, which he produced at the next meeting of the party; but this, with his “Haunch of Venison,” and some other short poems, were not printed till after his death.
He had at this time ready for the press, “ The Grecian History, from the earliest State to the Death of Alexander the Great,” which was afterwards printed in 2 vols. 8vo. He had also formed a design of compiling a “ Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,” a prospectus of which he printed and sent to his friends, many of whom had promised to furnish him with articles on different subjects. The booksellers, however, though they had a high opinion of his abilities, were startled at the bulk, importance, and expence of so great an undertaking, the execution of which was to depend upon a man with whose indolence of temper, and method of procrastination, they had long been acquainted : the coldness with which they met his proposals was lamented by Goldsmith to the hour of his death; which seems to have been accelerated by a neglect of his health, occasioned by continual vexa. tion of mind on account of his frequently involved circumstances, although the last year's produce of his labour is generally believed to have amounted to 18001.