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TO THE REV. HENRY GOLDSMITH.
most agreeable feast upon murdered reputation. Such
readers generally admire some half-witted thing, who DEAR SIR,
wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character I am sensible that the friendship between us can acquire of a wise one. Him they dignify with the name of poet: no new force from the ceremonies of a dedication; and his tawdry lampoons are called satires ; his turbulence is perhaps it demands an excuse thus to prefix your name to said to be force, and his frenzy fire. my attempts, which you decline giving with your own. What reception a poem may find, which has neither But as a part of this poem was formerly written to you abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, from Switzerland, the whole can now, with propriety, be nor am I solicitous to know. My aims are right. Without only inscribed to you. It will also throw a light upon espousing the cause of any party, I have endeavoured to many parts of it, when the reader understands, that it is moderate the rage of all. I have attempted to show, addressed to a man who, despising fame and fortune, has that there may be equal happiness in states that are retireu early to happiness and obscurity, with an income differently governed from our own; that every state has a of forty pounds a-year.
particular principle of happiness, and that this principle I now perceive, my dear brother, the wisdom of your in each may be carried to a mischievous excess. There humble choice. You have entered upon a sacred office, are few can judge better than yourself how far these posiwhere the harvest is great, and the labourers are but few; tions are illustrated in this poem. while you have left the field of ambition, where the
I am, dear Sir, labourers are many, and the harvest not worth carrying
Your most affectionate brother, away. But of all kinds of ambition—what from the refine
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. ment of the times, from different systems of criticism, and from the divisions of party—that which pursues poetical REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow, fame is the wildest. Poetry makes a principal amusement among unpolished
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po; nations; but in a country verging to the extremes of
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor refinement, painting and music come in for a share. As Against the houseless stranger shuts the door; these offer the feeble mind a less laborious entertainment, Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies, they at first rival poetry, and at length supplant her; they A weary waste expanding to the skies; engross all that favour once shown to her, and, though but Where'er I' roam, whatever realms to see, younger sisters, seize upon the elder's birth-right.
My heart untravell’d fondly turns to thee: Yet, however this art may be neglected by the powerful,
Still to my Brother turns, with ceaseless pain, it is still in greater danger from the mistaken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticisms have we not heard
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain, of late in favour of blank verse and Pindaric odes, cho
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, russes, anapests and iambics, alliterative care and happy
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend ! negligence! Every absurdity has now a champion to Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire defend it; and as he is generally much in the wrong, so To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire; he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative. Blest that abode, where want and pain repair, But there is an enemy to this art still more dangerous,
And every stranger finds a ready chair ; -I mean Party. Party entirely distorts the judgment,
Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what con
Where all the ruddy family around tributes to increase the distemper. Like the tiger, that Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail, seldom desists from pursuing man after having once
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale ; preyed upon human flesh, the reader, who has once Or
press the bashful stranger to his food, gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the And learn the luxury of doing good.
But me, not destined such delights to share, Hence every state to one loved blessing prone, My prime of life in wandering spent and care ; Conforms and models life to that alone. Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue
Each to the fav’rite happiness attends, Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view; And spurns the plan that aims at other ends; That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, Till, carried to excess in each domain, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies;
This fav’rite good begets peculiar pain. My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,
But let us try these truths with closer eyes, And find no spot of all the world my own. And trace them through the prospect as it lies:
Even now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, Here for a while, my proper cares resign'd, I sit me down a pensive hour to spend ;
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind; And, placed on high above the storm's career, Like yon neglected shrub, at random cast, Look downward where a hundred realms appear; That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast. Lakes, forests, cities, plains, extending wide, Far to the right, where Apennine ascends, The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride. Bright as the summer, Italy extends ;
When thus Creation's charms around combine, Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side, Amidst the store should thankless pride repine? Woods over woods in gay theatric pride ; Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
While oft some temple's mouldering tops between That good which makes each humbler bosom vain ? With venerable grandeur mark the scene. Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast, These little things are great to little man ;
The sons of Italy were surely blest. And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
Whatever fruits in different climes are found, Exults in all the good of all mankind. [crown’d; That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; Ye glittering towns, with wealth and splendour Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, Ye fields, where summer spreads profusion round; Whose bright succession decks the varied year; Ye lakes, whose vessels catch the busy gale; Whatever sweets salute the northern sky Ye bending swains, that dress the flowery vale; With vernal lives, that blossom but to die; For me your tributary stores combine:
These here disporting, own the kindred soil, Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine! Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil ; As some lone miser, visiting his store,
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er; To
winnow fragrance round the smiling land. Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill,
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, In florid beauty groves and fields appear, Pleased with each good that Heaven to man sup- Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, [plies : Contrasted faults through all his manners reign; To see the hoard of human bliss so small;
Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain ; And oft I wish, amidst the scene, to find
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue; Some spot to real happiness consign’d,
And even in penance planning sins anew.
That opulence departed leaves behind ;
At her command the palace learn’d to rise, [state ; Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own; Again the long-fallen column sought the skies; Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
The canvas glow'd beyond e'en nature warm, And his long nights of revelry and ease :
The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form : The naked negro, panting at the line,
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Commerce on other shores display'd her sail ; Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, While nought remain’d of all that riches gave, And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave : Such is the patriot's boast where'er we roam, And late the nation found, with fruitless skill, His first, best country, ever is at home.
Its former strength was but plethoric ill. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied And estimate the blessings which they share, By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride: Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find From these the feeble heart and long-fallen mind An equal portion dealt to all mankind;
An easy compensation seem to find. As different good, by art or nature given
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd, To different nations, makes their blessings even. The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade; Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
Processions form’d for piety and lov Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call; A mistress or a saint in every grove. With food as well the peasant is supplied
By sports like these are all their cares beguiled, On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side ;
The sports of children satisfy the child;
As in those domes where Cæsars once bore sway, That either seems destructive of the rest.
Defaced by time, and tottering in decay, Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails, There in the ruin, heedless of the dead, And honour sinks where commerce long prevails. The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed ;
And, wondering man could want the larger pile, Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.
May sit, like falcons cowering on the nest; My soul, turn from them; turn we to survey But all the gentler morals, such as play Where rougher climes a nobler race display, Through life's more cultured walks, and charm Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread, And force a churlish soil for scanty bread: These, far dispersed, on timorous pinions fly, No product here the barren hills afford,
To sport and futter in a kinder sky. But man and steel, the soldier and his sword; To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign, No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array, I turn; and France displays her bright domain. But winter lingering chills the lap of May; Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease, No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast, Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please! But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest. How often have I led thy sportive choir,
Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm, With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire ; Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm. Where shading elms along the margin grew, Though poor the peasant's hut, his feast though And, freshen’d from the wave, the zephyr flew; He sees his little lot the lot of all; [small, And haply, though my harsh touch faltering still Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
But mock'd all tune, and marr’d the dancer's skill, To shame the meanness of his humble shed; Yet would the village praise my wondrous power, No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, And dance, forgetful of the noon-tide hour. To make him loathe his vegetable meal;
Alike all ages. Dames of ancient days But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
Have led their children through the mirthful Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.
maze, Cheerful, at morn, he wakes from short repose, And the gay grandsire, skill'd in gestic lore, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes; Has frisk'd beneath the burden of threescore. With patient angle trolls the finny deep,
So blest a life these thoughtless realms display, Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep ; Thus idly busy rolls their world away: Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way, Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear, And drags the struggling savage into day.
For honour forms the social temper here. At night returning, every labour sped,
Honour, that praise which real merit gains, He sits him down the monarch of a shed ;
Or e'en imaginary worth obtains, Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys Here passes current; paid from hand to hand, His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze; It shifts in splendid traffic round the land; While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard, From courts to camps, to cottages it strays, Displays her cleanly platter on the board :
And all are taught an avarice of praise; And haply too some pilgrim, thither led,
They please, are pleased; they give to get esteem, With many a tale repays the nightly bed.
Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem. Thus every good his native wilds impart
But while this softer art their bliss supplies, Imprints the patriot passion on his heart;
It gives their follies also room to rise ; And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise, For praise too dearly loved, or warmly sought, Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies. Enfeebles all internal strength of thought: Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms, And the weak soul, within itself unblest, And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms; Leans for all pleasure on another's breast. And as a child, when scaring sounds molest, Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art, Clings close and closer to the mother's breast, Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart; So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, Here vanity assumes her pert grimace, But bind him to his native mountains more. And trims her robes of frieze with copper lace;
Such are the charms to barren states assign'd; Here beggar pride defrauds her daily cheer, Their wants but few, their wishes all confined. To boast one splendid banquet once a-year : Yet let them only share the praises due ;
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws, If few their wants, their pleasures are but few : Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause. For every want that stimulates the breast
To men of other minds my fancy flies Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest; Embosom’d in the deep where Holland lies : Whence from such lands each pleasing science Methinks her patient sons before me stand, That first excites desire, and then supplies; [flies Where the broad ocean leans against the land, Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, And, sedulous to stop the coming tide, To fill the languid pause with finer joy ;
Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride. Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, Onward, methinks, and diligently slow, Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame, The firm connected bulwark seems to grow ; Their level life is but a smouldering fire,
Spreads its long arms amidst the watery roar, Unquench’d by want, unfann'd by strong desire ; Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore. Unfit for raptures, or, if raptures cheer
While the pent ocean, rising o'er the pile, On some high festival of once a-year,
Sees an amphibious world beneath him smile: In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire, The slow canal, the yellow-blossom’d vale, Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire.
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail, But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow; The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low : A new creation rescued from his reign. For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil Unalter'd, unimproved the manners run;
Impels the native to repeated toil,
And industry begets a love of gain.