Изображения страниц
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]



1-17 17

Tais gentleman was born at Fernes, in the province Our poet and his pupil continued together until they of Leinster, in Ireland, in the year 1731. His father, arrived at the south of France, where, on a disagree. the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, had four sons, of whom ment, they parted, and our author was left to struggle Oliver was the youngest. He studied the classics in with all the difficulties that a man could experience, Mr. Hughes's school; and on the 11th of June, 1744, who was in a state of poverty, in a foreign country, was admitted a sizar in Trinity College, Dublin. without friends. Yet, notwithstanding all his diffi

During his continuance at the University, he made culties, his ardour for travelling was not abated; and no display of those shining abilities which afterwards he persisted in his scheme, though he was frequently so distinguishedly marked his genius. In the month obliged to be beholden to his flute and the peasants. of February, 1749, which was two years after the At length, his curiosity being gratified,' he bent his regular course of those things, he obtained the degree course towards England, and about the beginning of of Bachelor of Arts. In the year 1751, he visited the winter, in 1759, he arrived at Dover. Edinburgh, having previously turned his thoughts to His situation was not much mended on his arrival the profession of physic, and attended soine courses of in London, at which period the whole of his finances anatomy in Dublin. At Edinburgh, he studied the were reduced to a few halfpence. What must be different branches of medicine under the respective the gloomy apprehensions of a man in so forlorn a professors in that University. His thoughtless, though situation, and an utter stranger in the metropolis ! beneficent disposition, soon involved him in difficul- He applied to several apothecaries for employment; ties; and, having made himself responsible for the but his awkward appearance, and his broad Irish acdebt of another person, a fellow-student, he was cent, were so much against him, that he met only with obliged abruptly to leave Scotland, in order to avoid ridicule and contempt. At last, however, merely the horrors of a prison.

through motives of humanity, he was taken notice of In the beginning of the year 1754 he arrived at by a chemist, who employed him in his laboratory. Sunderland; but being pursued by a legal process, In this situation he continued, till he was informed on account of the debt we have just mentioned, he that his old friend Dr. Sleigh was in London. He was arrested; but he was afterwards set at liberty by then quitted the chemist, and lived some time upon the friendship of Mr. Laughlin Maclane and Dr. the liberality of the doctor; but, disliking a life of Sleigh, who were then in the college.

dependence on the generosity of his friend, and being Having surmounted this embarrassment, he em- unwilling to be burthensome to him, he soon accepted barked on board a Dutch ship, and arrived at Rot- an offer that was made him, of assisting the late Rev. terdam; from whence he went to Brussels; then Dr. Milner, in the education of young gentlemen, at visited great part of Flanders, and afterwards Stras- his academy at Peckham. During the time he reburg and Louvain, where he continued some time, mained in this situation, he gave much satisfaction to and obtained the degree of Bachelor in Physic. his employer; but as he had obtained some reputation From thence he went to Geneva, in company with an

from criticisms he had written in the Monthly Review, English gentleman. It is a circumstance worth re- he eagerly engaged in the compilation of that work, cording, that he had so strong a propensity to see with Mr. Griffith, the principal proprietor. He acdifferent countries, men, and manners, that even the cordingly returned to London, took a lodging in necessity of walking on foot could not deter him Green-Arbour Court, in the Old Bailey, and comfrom this favourite pursuit. His German flate, on

menced a professed author. which he played tolerably well, frequently supplied This was in the year 1759, before the close of him with the means of subsistence; and his learning which he produced several works, particularly a peprocured him a favourable reception at most of the riodical publication, called The Bee, and An Enreligious houses he visited. He himself tells us, that quiry into the present State of Polite Learning whenever be approached a peasant's house, he played in Europe. He also became a writer in The Public one of his most merry tunes, and that generally pro- Ledger, in which his Citizen of the World origicored him not only a lodging, but subsistence for the nally appeared, under the title of Chinese Letlers. next day. This, however, was not the case with the His reputation extended so rapidly, and his connecrich, who generally despised both him and his music. tions became so numerous, that he was soon enabled

He had not been long arrived at Geneva, when he to emerge from bis mean lodgings in the Old Bailey, to met with a young man, who, by the death of an uncle, the politer air of the Temple, where he took chambers was become possessed of a considerable fortune, and in 1762, and lived in a more creditable manner. At to whom Mr. Goldsmith was recommended for a length, his reputation was fully established by the travelling companion. As avarice was the prevailing publication of The Traveller in the year 1765. His principle of this young man, it cannot be supposed Vicar of Wakefield followed his Traveller, and his he was long pleased with his preceptor, who was of a History of England was followed by the performcontrary turn of mind.

ance of his Comedy of The Good-natured Man, all Mr. Goldsmith, during his residence at the college which contributed to place him among the first rank of Edinburgh, had given marks of his rising genius of the poets of these times. for poetry, which Switzerland greatly contributed The Good-natured Man was acted at Coventto bring to maturity. It was here he wrote the first Garden Theatre in the year 1788. Many parts of this sketch of his Traveller, which he sent to his brother play exhibit the strongest indications of our author's Henry, a clergyman in Ireland, who, despising Fame comic talents. There is, perhaps, no character on the and Fortune, retired with an amiable wife, on an in. stage more happily imagined, and more highly finished, come of only forty pounds per annum, to pass a

than Croaker's; nor do we recollect so original and life of happiness and obseurity.

successful an incident as that of the letter, which he


conceives to be the composition of the incendiary, and to embitter the latter part of his life, and which, feels a thousand ridiculous horrors in consequence of united with the vexations he suffered upon other his absurd apprehension. The 'audience, however, occasions, brought on a kind of habitual despondency. having been just before exalted on the sentimental In this condition he was attacked by a nervous fever, stilts of False Delicacy, a Comedy by Mr. Kelly, which, in spite of the most able medical assistance, they regarded a few scenes in Mr. Goldsmith's piece terminated in his dissolution, on the 4th day of April, as too low for their entertainment, and therefore | 1774, in the forty-fifth year of his age. treated them with unjustifiable severity. Neverthe- His remains were deposited in the burial-ground less, The Good-natured Man succeeded, though in a belonging to the Temple, and a monument hath since degree inferior to its merit. The prologue to it, which been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey, is excellent, was written by Dr. Samuel Johnson. at the expense of a literary club to which he belonged.

In 1773, the Comedy of She Stoops to Conquer, It consists of a large medallion, exhibiting a good or The Mistakes of a Night, was acted at Covent- likeness of the Doctor, embellished with literary Garden Theatre. This Piece was considered as a ornaments; underneath which is a tablet of white farce by some writers: even if so, it must be ranked marble, with the following inscription, written by his among the farces of a man of genius. One of the friend Dr. Samuel Johnson. most ludicrous circumstances it contains, which is

Englished. that of the robbery, is said to be borrowed from Al

This Monument is raised bamazzar. Mr. Colman, who was then a manager of the theatre, had very little opinion of this piece,

to the Memory of

OLIVER GOLDSMITH, and made so keen a remark on it, while in rehearsal, that the Doctor never forgave him for it. The piece,

Poet, Natural Philosopher, and Historian;

Who left no species of writing untouched, however, succeeded contrary to Mr. Colman's ex

or pectations, being received with uncommon applause by the audience.

Unadorp'd by His Pen. The last theatrical piece the Doctor produced, was

Whether to move laughter,

Or draw tears, The Grumbler, a Farce, altered from Sedley. It

He was a powerful master was acted at Covent-Garden, in 1773, for the benefit

Over the affections, of Mr. Quick; but it was acted only one night, and was never printed.

Though at the same time a gentle tyrant; The Doctor might, withra little attention to prudence

Of a genius at once sublime, lively, and and economy, have placed himself in a state above

Equal to every subject: want and dependence. He is said to have acquired,

In expression at once noble,

Pure and delicate. in one year, one thousand eight hundred pounds; and the advantages arising from his writings were very

His memory will last considerable for many years before his death. But

As long as society retains affection, these were rendered useless by an improvident libe

Friendship is not void of honour, rality, which prevented his distinguishing properly

And reading wants not her admirers. the objects of his generosity; and an unhappy at- He was born in the Kingdom of Ireland, tachment to gaming, with the arts of which he was

At Fernes, in the province very little acquainted. He therefore remained at

of Leinster, times as much embarrassed in his circumstances, as

Where Pallas had set her name, when his income was in its lowest and most preca

29th Nov. 1731. rious state.

He was educated at Dublin; He had been for some years, at different times,

And died in London, affected with a violent stranguary, which contributed

4th April, 1944.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


whole can now,


not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambiDEAR SIR,

tion, what from the refinement of the times, from I Am sensible that the friendship between us can different systems of criticism, and from the divisions acquire no new force from the ceremonies of a Dedi. of party, that which pursues poetical fame is the cation; and perhaps it demands an excuse thus to wildest. prefix your name to my attempts, which you decline Poetry makes a principal amusentent among ungiving with your own. But as a part of this Poem polished nations; but in a country verging to the was formerly written to you from Switzerland, the extremes of refinement, Painting and Music come in

with propriety, be only inscribed to for a share. As these offer the feeble mind a less you. It will also throw a light upon many parts of laborious entertainment, they at first rival Poetry, it, when the reader understands that it is addressed and at length supplant her; they engross all that to a man, who, despising Fame and Fortune, has favour once shown to her, and, though but younger retired early to Happiness and Obscurity, with an sisters, seize upon the elder's birth-right. income of forty pounds a year.

Yet, however this art may be neglected by the I now perceive, my dear brother, the wisdom of powerful, it is still in greater danger from the misyour humble choice. You have entered upon a sacred taken efforts of the learned to improve it. What office, where the harvest is great, and the labourers criticisms have we not heard of late in favour of are but few; while you have left the field of Ambi- blank verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, anapests tion, where the labourers are many, and the harvest and iambics, alliterative care and bappy negligence !

[merged small][ocr errors]

Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it; E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend,
and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has I sit me down a pensive hour to spend;
always much to say; for error is ever talkative. And plac'd on high, above the storm's career,

But there is an enemy to this art still more dan- Look downward where a hundred realms appear;
gerous, I mean Party. Party entirely distorts the Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide,
judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
is once infected with this disease, it can only find When thus Creation's charms around combine,
pleasure in what contributes to increase the distem- Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine ?
per. Like the tiger, that seldom desists from pur. Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
suing man, after having once preyed upon human That good which makes each humbler bosom vain?
flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
with calamny, makes, ever after, the most agreeable These little things are great to little man ;
feast upon murdered reputation. Such readers gene- And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
rally admire some half-witted thing, who wants to be Exults in all the good of all mankind.
thought a bold man, having lost the character of a

Ye glittring towns, with wealth and splendour wise one. Him they dignify with the name of poet; crown'd; bis tawdry lampoons are called satires: his turbulence Ye fields, where summer spreads profusion round; is said to be force, and his phrenzy fire.

Ye lakes, whose vessels catch the busy gale; What reception a Poem may find, which has nei. Ye bending swains, that dress the flowery vale! ther abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I For me your tributary stores combine: cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My aims Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine. are right. Without espousing the cause of any party, As some lone miser, visiting his store, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er; endeavoured to show, that there may be equal bap- Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, piness in states that are differently governed from our Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: own; that every state has a particular principle of Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, bappiness, and that this principle in each may be Pleas'd with each good that Heav'n to man supcarried to a mischievous excess. There are few can plies; judge better than yourself, how far these positions Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, are illustrated in this Poem.

To see the hoard of human bliss so small;
I am, Dear Sir,

And oft I wish, amidst the scene to find
Your most affectionate Brother,

Some spot to real happiness consign'd,

Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest,
May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.

But where to find that happiest spot below,
Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone

Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own;

Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,

And his long nights of revelry and ease.

The naked Negro, panting at the Line,

Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine,

Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.

Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam,
Rexote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po;

His first, best country, ever is at home.
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor

And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,

And estimate the blessings which they share,
Against the houseless stranger shuts the door;
Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,

Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find
weary waste expanding to the skies;

An equal portion dealt to all mankind :
Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,

As different good, by art or nature given

To different nations, makes their blessings even.
My heart, untravell’d, fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,

Nature, a mother kind alike to all, :
And drags at each remove a length’ning chain.

Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call;
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,

With food as well the peasant is supply'd
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend;

On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side; Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire

And though the rocky-crested summits frown,
pause from toil, and trim their evening fire;

These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,

From art more various are the blessings sent;
And every stranger finds á ready chair :

Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content. Blest be those feasts, with simple plenty crown's,

Yet these each other's power so strong contest, Where all the ruddy family around

That either seems destructive of the rest. Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,

Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails; Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale;

And honour sinks where commerce long prevails. Or press the bashful stranger to his food,

Hence every state, to one lov'd blessing prone, And learn the luxury of doing good.

Conforms and models life to that alone :
But me, not destin'd such delights to share,

Each to the fav’rite happiness attends,
My prime of life in wandering spent and care;

And spurns the plan that aims at other ends;
Impelld with steps unceasing to pursue

Till, carried to excess in each domain, Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view;

This fav'rite good begets peculiar pain.
That, like the circle bounding earth and skies,

But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies;

And trace them through the prospect as it lies :
My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,

Here, for a while, my proper cares resign'd,
And find no spot of all the world my own.

Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Like. yon neglected shrub at random cast,

Tho' poor the peasant's hut, his feasts tho'small, That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast. He sees his little lot the lot of all;

Far to the right, where Appennine ascends, Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, Bright as the summer, Italy extends :

To shame the meanness of his humble shed ; Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,

No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, Woods over woods in gay theatric pride;

To make him lothe his vegetable meal; While oft some temple's mould'ring tops between But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, With memorable grandeur mark the scene.

Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.' Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,

Cheerful at morn he wakes from short repose, The sons of Italy were surely blest.

Breasts the keen air, and carols as he goes ;
Whatever fruits in different climes are found,

With patient angle trolls the finny deep,
That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; Or drives his vent'rous plough-share to the steep ;
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,

Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year; And drags the struggling savage into day:
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky

At night returning, every labour sped,
With vernal leaves, that blossom but to die;

He sits him down the monarch of a shed; These, here disporting, own the kindred soil,

Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil;

His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze ; While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand While his lov'd partner, boastful of her hoard, To winnow fragrance round the smiling land. Displays her cleanly platter on the board :

But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And haply, too, some pilgrim, thither led, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.

With many a tale repays the nightly bed.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear,

Thus every good his native wilds impart
Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Imprints the patriot passion on his heart;
Contrasted faults through all his manners reign; And e'en those hills that round his mansion 'rise,
Though poor, luxurious ; though submissive, vain; Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies :
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue; Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms,
And e'en in penance planning sins anew.

And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms;
All evils here contaminate the mind,

And as a child, when scaring sounds molest, That opulence departed leaves behind;

Clings close and closer to the mother's breast, For wealth was theirs, nor far remov'd the date, So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, When commerce proudly flourish'd thro' the state;

But bind him to his native mountains more. At her command the palace learn'd to rise,

Such are the charms to barren states assign'd;
Again the long-fall’n column sought the skies ; Their wants but few, their wishes all confin'd.
The canvass glow'd, beyond e'en Nature warm,

Yet let them only share the praises due,
The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form: If few their wants, their pleasures are but few;
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale,

For every want that stimulates the breast
Commerce on other shores display'd her sail; Becomes a source of pleasure when represt :
While nought remain'd of all that riches gave, Whence from such lands each pleasing science
But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave :

And late the nation found, with fruitless skill, That first excites desire, and then supplies.
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.

Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy,
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supply'd To fill the languid pause with finer joy:
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride; Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flanie,
From these the feeble heart and long-fallen mind Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame.
An easy compensation seem to find.

Their level life is but a mould'ring fire,
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd, Unquench'd by want, unfann'd by strong desire;
The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade ;

Unfit for raptures, or, if raptures cheer
Processions form’d for piety and love,

On some high festival of once a year, A mistress or a saint in every grove.

In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire, By sports like these are all their cares beguild, Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire. The sports of children satisfy the child :

But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow; Each nobler aim, represt by long controul,

Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low; Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul;

For, as refinements stops, from sire to son While low delights, succeeding fast behind,

Unalter'd, unimprov'd, the manners run ; In happier meanness occupy the mind :

And love's and friendship’s finely-pointed dart As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway, Fall blunted from each indurated heart. Defac'd by time, and tott'ring in decay,

Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,

May sit, like falcons cowering on the nest; The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;

But all the gentler morals, such as play. And, wondering man could want the larger pile, Thro' life's more cultur'd walks, and charm the Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.

My soul turn from them, turn we to survey These, far dispers’d, on timorous pinions fly,
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,

To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.
Where the black Swiss their stormy mansions tread, To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread;

and France displays her bright domain. No product here the barren hills afford,

Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease, But man and steel, the soldier and his sword,

Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please, No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,

How often have I led thy sportive choir, But winter lingering chills the lap of May;

With tuneless, pipe, beside the murmuring Loire ; No zephyr fondly súes the mountain's breast,

Where shading elms along the margin grew, But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.

And freshen'd from the wave the zephyr flew! Yet still, e'en here, content can spread a charm, And haply, though my harsh touch, falt'ring still, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.

But mock'd all tune, and marr'd the dancer's skill ;

[merged small][ocr errors]

1 turn;

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »