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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

IX. Oliver Goldsmith

§ 9. Contributions to The Monthly Review

Even in his first paper, on The Mythology of the Celtes, by Mallet, the translator of the Edda, he opened with a statement which must have been out of the jog-trot of the Dunciad traditions.

  • “The learned on this side the Alps,” he said, “have long laboured in the Antiquities of Greece and Rome, but almost totally neglected their own; like Conquerors who, while they have made inroads into the territories of their neighbours, have left their own natural dominions to desolation.”
  • It would be too much to trace the Reliques of English Poetry to this utterance; but (as Forster says) “it is wonderful what a word in season from a man of genius may do, even when the genius is hireling and obscure and only labouring for the bread it eats.” Meanwhile, the specimen review “from the gentleman who signs, D,” although printed with certain omissions, secured Goldsmith’s entry to Griffiths’s periodical, and he criticised some notable books—Home’s Douglas, Burke On the Sublime, Gray’s Odes, the Connoisseur, Smollett’s History—titles which at least prove that, utility man as he was, his competence was recognised from the first. The review of Gray, whose remoteness and “obscurity” he regretted, and whom he advised to take counsel of Isocrates and “study the people,” was, nevertheless, the last of his contributions to The Monthly Review. Whether the fault lay in his own restless nature, or whether he resented the vexatious editing of his work by the bookseller and his wife, the fact remains that, with September, 1757, Goldsmith’s permanent connection with Griffiths came to a close; and, for the next few months, he subsisted by contributing to The Literary Magazine and by other miscellaneous practice of the pen.