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Descriptive Sketches" verse, but to fill the old with a clear, published in 1793, are obviously the copious, and vigorous stream of thought. production of a mind in which the ca- It is in this spirit that he tells us that dences of the “ Traveller” still dwelt, “the greatest danger to poetry is in the and in which its cast of thought was mistaken efforts of the learned to imnot forgotten.*
What criticisms have we Goldsmith's verse cannot perhaps be not heard of late in favor of blank said to aim high, but what it aims at it verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, thoroughly attains.
no anapests, and iambics, alliterative care, aspirant after the glaring novelties of and happy negligence!, Every absura specious and boastful originality; dily has a champion to defend it.” The but seems to have been fully convinced chief improvement which he seems to that new varieties of poetical form Aatter himself with having effected, is were unnecessary or dangerous, and the pruning of those redundant epithat the most available moods of that thets with which he considered Gray mighty lyre-our noble English ver- and Mason to have enfeebled the poenacular-had been sufficiently tried, tical composition of the day.
He authenticated, and established by the endeavoured to build the structure of practice of its loftiest masters. His his versification with that cunning object was not to open new channels of masonry of aptly fitted material, where
We need not go farther than the folluwing description of the enjoyments of the rambling tourist, near the commencement of the poem :
No gains too cheaply earned his fancy cloy,
With bashful fear no cottage children steal
Or desperate love, could lead a wanderer there, Those who prefer to detect imitation in its more private recesses, will compare the use of the personal pronoun in the passage imediately following the above
Me, lured by hope its sorrows to remove,
A heart that could not much itself approve, &c. with the corresponding lines in the Traveller
But not destin'd such delights to share,
Some fleeting good that mocks me with the view. Wordsworth's poem is indeed far inferior to its finished and beautiful model; but Wordsworth was then young, nor had his muse yet learned that it was her high destiny to shine by no borrowed light: or rather—as it was imagined in one of the ancient philosophies, that all the starry fires were originally imbibed and condensed from the igneous sphere above and around them—that it is the prerogative of genius, even though it should at first borrow its flame from the glories that encompass it, to glitter for ever after by self-sustained and independent effulgence.
every inch is equally solid, and where critical discrimination in a cataract of no cement of poorer stuff is required to universal censure. They feel in pretty fill up crevices. He carried this notion good health, it is true, and the shop is so far as to presume to declare himself thriving ; but then with such a tyranny better pleased with Gray's Elegy in above them, they know they ought to such a forın as this
feel uncomfortable ; and who shall
dare question their right to be unThe curfew tolls the knell of day,
happy? If they please to enjoy the The lowing herd winds o'er the lea; The ploughman homeward plods his way, rapture of shuddering at the rapacity
of a despotic aristocracy and a ple
thoric church, and the ruin of the The impatience of the narrator, nation, that has for centuries been (Cradock) interrupted the last line, breathing its last beneath the pressure and secured us from a completion of the of both; who is so cruel as to deprive profanation. Goldsmith's beautiful ballad
the dear drunken inartyrs, staggering The Hermit,” is his most under the fervour of patriotism and perfect realization of thetheory of which this instance is a hyperbolical distortion. porter, of their luxury of discon
tent ? Really, from the very force of In the Traveller, Goldsmith has ex- stating their case, we begin to sym. pressed, in verse of unequalled grace, pathize with it ; and we should indeed the philosophy of man and of society, lament that the influence of our poet which in other forms pervades his should have been exerted to abridge entire writings. The doctrine he dis- such refined enjoyments, if there were closes in this poetical survey, is the any fear of his ever being read by the basis of all that strain of universal sagacious statists in question : or of tolerance and moderation which con- their intellects (in our day at least) stituted the whole extent of his poli- ever condescending to sink to the tical and moral views. And doubtless pages of Goldsmith, from the study of it is no bad philosophy. The great those two profound journals with the principle, that happiness is not to be astronomical designations which each sought in external circumstance but successive day enlighten our political in the purity of the mind, that in firmament. For Goldsmith had Pope's pregnant words, " 'tis no where cowardly notion, that as long as the to be found or every where ;” and that weight of government does not press this happiness—far more independent on individuals, they may relinquish all of peculiarities of government or laws trouble about the secret involutions of than we are apt to imagine-each social its mechanism. Yet let us do justice community attempts to attain by the to the dastard, and dog as he is, give exclusive pursuit of some favourite him a chance of his life. He did not principle which invariably, by being conceive that if a government first perurged to excess, brings on national petrated public robbery, and then condeclension ; this doctrine, understood nived at its continuation, because in the privileged latitude of poetry, is afraid of the ganc with whom they unquestionably true. In these days of were sworn to fellowship—that if after public spirit, when moderation is apt neutralizing by one measure the legito be styled pusillanimity, we have little timate influence of an integral part of doubt třiat the part of the theory which the constitution, they then hired a pritends to discourage political interference vileged parliamentary ruffian to sneer is rejected by many with scorn. The down its very existence—that in such Montesquieus of the ale-house, who a case of flagrant and unparalleled lecture upon the rights of the people, malversation as this, if such should with brains as muddy as their beverage, ever occur, silence was the only duty visit it with their august disapproval. of the subject. No, in such a case It is in vain to tell them that the he would have felt that the primary government“works well”-we beg par- instinct of self-preservation impelled don for the obsolete idiom—if they Property to speak out against public are not permitted to see the effects in Piracy.' So that after all, perhaps our their causes, to scrutinize the springs of poet may still find some pardon from the machinery, and to exercise their the lovers of aggregate meetings ; and the patriotic journals which bid them of English poetry, and the passage be noisy when unmolested and mute which describes Britain and the British under a chain of insults, may perhaps character (opening with the sudden be sometimes superseded by the pueri- transition so ofien admired) was seen lities of a ninny like Goldsmith. But to draw tears from Johnson. more than enough of them and of their
Yet, even the Traveller had not oracles ! However the philosophy of The Tra- smith's genius was capable of attaining.
shewn the perfection which Goldveller may be praised or censured, there it remained for him still to present is, we presume, little dispute about the
to his countrymen a poem which poetry. There has seldom been so
contains a more accurate portraiture much lively and varied description of nature in one of its sweetest comprised in so small a space, and or- phases, a more profound pathos, and a namented with moral associations so
more exquisite selection of affecting touching and true. The plan was for. images, than any production of its class tunate, in allowing a liberal choice of in this or in any other language. The all the results of travelled experience, political views which are embodied in and the diversification of scene in the the Deserted Village are indeed similar poem is accompanied by a proportioned to those of the Traveller ; but the sub. diversification of its spirit. The fault of ject allowed of those minuter touches exuberance in the painting of natural which confer on it a higher polish, and, scenery, which is perhaps the most se- by the verisimilitude of the depiction, ductive temptation to error in this class
a more lasting power over the affections. of compositions, is very ably avoided, Could there be more of pathetic force and“ pure description" never “ holds conveyed in a single incidental circumthe place of
Often antithetical, stance than in the description of one its passages seldom sparkle with the dismantled spot, as being a place icy glitter of other poets, but with a ray
“ Where once the garden smil'd, that warms as well as illumines ; and
And still where many a garden flower grows wild." the benevolent spirit of the author is never sacrificed to that ostentation of Few who rise from the perusal of the satirical power, in pursuit of which so poem will be inclined to rate Cumbermany accomplished writers have aban- land's criticism of its author as very doned the merit of being useful for the correct, either in principle or application. reputation of being formidable. Gold- “ That he was a poet," says this lively smith had a wonderful art of concealing but superficial writer, " there is no the labour under its results, of hiding doubt, but the paucity of his verses the poet in the poem. In reading does not allow us to rank him in that Pope we can almost see the wit in its high station where his genius might study, his eye kindling over each suc- have carried him. There must be bulk, ceeding brilliancy, and his judgment variety, and grandeur of design to conpurposely relinquishing the natural ex- stitute a first-rate poet. The Deserted pression of thought for that polished Village, Traveller, and Herinit, are brevity of which no man ever was so all specimens, beautiful as such, but perfect a master ; but Goldsmith's lines they are only birds' eggs on a string, suggest to us rather the contemplative and eggs of small birds too.
One mourner uttering his fancies in words great magnificent whole must be acthat form themselves almost without an complished before we can pronounce effort into rich and melodious verse. the maker to be the ο ποιητης. Pope He does not seem to demand our ad- himself never earned this title by any miration, but to insinuate himself into work of magnitude but his Homer, and our sympathy. Of poems which most that being a translation, only constituted of our readers probably know by heart, him an accomplished versifier.” Is it it would be superfluous to criticise the necessary to supply any answer to such separate parts. The merits of the criticism as this? It amounts to no Traveller were recognized by nine large more than reminding us that Goldeditions in the period of eight years. Smith is not a Shakspeare or a Milton; Fox classed it among the chef d'æuvres for the discussion of his claim to the nane of Poet is but a question of words, those of preceding authors. Yet with and if we first arbitrarily confine the all these abatements there will remain designation to such minds as these, of enough of excellence in the little vocourse it will follow, irresistibly, that lume of his verse to entitle him to the Goldsmith has no right to receive it. first rank among the poets of his day, But when the critic includes bim in the and to a place which, in all its peculisame category as Pope, and involves arities of intellectual character, could him in a similar censure, the admirers unquestionably be filled by no other of Goldsmith will, we believe, be quite poet in the annals of our literary history. satisfied, or flattered, with any verdict He died in the midst of a triumphant of condemnation which is shared with course. Every year that he lived would the author of the Essay on Man. have added to his reputation. There
Goldsmith indeed wrote little poetry, is assuredly no symptom of decadence and projected no vast works of verse. in the picturesque pages of his last Nay, we will admit that there are few work, the History of Animated Nature : writers who repeat themselves oftener; a book which, not possessing indeed the so that the actual quantity of his pro- character of authority only to begranted ductions, by the process of rejecting to faithful reports of personal obseriterations, might be still farther di- vation, is yet unequalled for clearness minished. Many of the moral reflections of expression and all the charms of a of bis Traveller and Deserted Village, most graceful style. Northcote tells occur in the Citizen of the World, us that he had just begun a novel before the Vicar of Wakefield, and his miscel- his death; and a second Vicar of laneous Essays ; and some of the orna- Wakefield may have been buried in mental images in both the poems occur the tomb of Goldsmith. not only in his own writings, but in The moral characteristics of the man
• The fine couplet in the opening passage of the Traveller,
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chainis apparently anticipated by Cibber ;— When I am with Florimel, it (my heart)
is still your prisoner—it only draws a longer chain after it;"-and certainly by himself in the Citizen of the World, « The ties that bind me to my native country and you are still unbroken ; by every remove I only drag a greater length of chain." There is a pretty idea in one of his essays, where enlarging on the advantages of the restrictions of rhyme in poetry, he tells us that “ Fancy like a fountain plays highest by diminishing the aperture.” Did he derive this thought trom the following neat verses of M. de la Faye ?
De la contrainte rigoureuse
L'onde s'éleve dans les airs, &c.
The king himself has followed her
When she has walked before, is forestalled in Shakespeare ;
Pandar. Do not you follow the young lord Paris ?
But we do not sympathize in the perpetual advertisements of stolen goods with which some of our modern journals abound. We will never condescend to edit a Parpassian Hue and Cry.
are known to the world. Garrick em- stood in need of help!" And let us ployed the licensed exaggeration of not forget that many of his faults arose satire when he styled him a scholar, from those very susceptibilities which rake, Christian, dupe, gambler, and lay at the root of his genius. A genius poet;" but there is much more truth so tender and touching in its written in the catalogue than would be suffi- results is seldom an accession to the cient to keep the falsehood in counte- real happiness of its gifted possessor.
His early wanderings, vague Fixed upon ideal excellencies it sees and aimless, had never gained him the mixed character of human life with admission into any valuable foreign discontent; stimulating the imagination society; and, accordingly, they had to preposterous hopes it makes disapgiven him little practical experience. pointments at once more frequent and Virtues uncorrupted, and faults uncor- more acute ; and magnifying supposed rected, he returned as he went; and wrongs to undue importance, it perhis subsequent life as a professed author petually swells momentary vexations was not calculated to supply the defi- into permanent resentments, and thus, ciencies of his youth. But amid all bis by an ingenuity in self-annoyance, finds errors, let us never forget the deep and in imaginary insults real misfortune. unvarying attachment of Goldsmith to Truly and finely has Goethe written in his country and his family ; the attach- his exquisite “ Torquato Tasso"--which ment that dictated his memorable reply is perhaps the most pathetic description to the duke—then earl- of Northum- ever drawn of the maladies of this berland, (who had sent for the poet over.wrought sensibility. to apprise him of his unsolicited readi.
Thou dost not to the pictured martyr grudge ness to promote his interests by any The golden radiance round his hairless head, means in his power)--that " he had a And where the laurel wreath appears to thee, brother, a clergyman in Ireland, who 'Tis more a sign of sorrow than of joy!
SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF EDWARD LASCELLES, GENT.
Meminisse juvabit.- Virgil. “ See Naples and die!" was once said to consist of the gay and the remarked by some dreamy tourist, and talented of almost every nation, form every vain Neapolitan caught the echo a combination of attractions nct perup ; ** See Naples and live as long as haps to be equalled in any other corner you can to enjoy it,” is the maxim of the earth. which I would recommend in prefer- With so much to see and so much ence, to the attention of my readers. to enjoy, it may be supposed that dur
Naples is, indeed, a place where one ing my stay at Naples my time was may be truly said to awaken to a full fully occupied. In the society of my consciousness of existence. The balmy kind French friends I visited every spot air laden with the fragrance of the pleasing for its beauty, or interesting orange, the citron, and the myrtle ; the for its antiquity.
With them I wanmagnificent landscapes that present dered through the now deserted streets themselves on every side, in all those of the once populous Pompeii ; and varieties of form and hue which the lingering among the ruins of its houses, pencils of Claude, or Titian, or Salva- its temples and its theatres, I wondered tor loved to pourtray ; the interesting to think how like ourselves were the remains of antiquity which recall the Romans of two thousand years ago. names and the deeds of " the mighty We treaded our way through streets men of Rome,” and fill the memory which still bore the marks of the wheels with the enchanting imaginings of by which they were traversed so many Homer and Virgil ; all this, added to centuries ago ; we entered the shops the delightful society, which may be on either side, and could almost fancy