English political writer and agitator; born 1763; died Jan. 6, 1846. Educated in London, he was trained for the legal profession, but soon abandoned this profession for the writing of political pamphlets and satires. He started his career as an enthusiastic defender of the French Revolution. His first literary venture was an edition of Barlow's "Advice to the Privileged Orders in the Several States of Europe" (1792). This was followed (1801) by "State of the French Republic at the End of the Year 1800," a translation from the French. In the same year he published "The Crimes of Cabinets, or a Review of the Plans and Aggressions for Annihilating the Liberties of France, and the Dismemberment of Her Territories." So unpopular in England were the views which he held that the London booksellers scarcely dared to offer his books for sale. Being threatened with prosecution for this last work, he sought safety in flight, and went to Paris (1803). There he offered the French government the help of his pen against England. The offer was accepted, and resulted in the publication of an English journal at Paris—"The Argus, or London Reviewed in Paris."
But there were limits to his denunciations, and because he refused to do as his employers wished they negotiated with the English government to surrender him in exchange for a French political prisoner in England named Peltier. He continued to reside in France, however, and was taken back into the confidence of Napoleon, who employed him upon various secret missions. In 1809 he was conveyed to England, formally tried for treason, and discharged. Embittered by the treacherous conduct of the French government, he started (1811) a Sunday newspaper called the "Anti-Gallican Monitor," in which he denounced the French Revolution as violently as he had formerly espoused it. He went so far as to propose the assassination of Napoleon. In his "Secret History of the Cabinet of Bonaparte" and his "Secret History of Bonaparte's Diplomacy," he brought the most serious charges against his former employer. In pursuance of his new policy he advocated the restoration of Louis XVIII., and when this event took place that monarch rewarded Goldsmith with a pension for life. The latter part of his life was spent principally in Paris. He had one daughter, Georgiana, who became the second Lady Lyndhurst.
- Didot, Biographic Générale;
- J. H. Rose, Biographical Dictionary;
- Quérard, La France Littéraire;
- Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, pp. 230-231;
- Dict. Nat. Biog.