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the anxieties and degradations of a capricious and despotic Court!
It is not among the least of the numerous praises due to Poetry, that it is calculated to people, enrich, and animate Solitude, and the virtuous retreats of the country. The mind that stagnates, in absence from the busy but baneful liveliness of Courts, is mean, dependent, and empty. Sir Thomas Wyat, who seems to have had a noble spirit, and feeling heart, has a fine moral poem on the sufferings of courtiers, and on the comparative freedom, peace, and purity of a rural seclusion. In the days of ruder and less cultivated intellect in which he lived, how powerful must have been the sentiments, which thus break out into forcible and elegant language! “ This is the cause that I could never yet
Hang on their sleeves, that weigh, as thou mayst see,
“ True poesy is as a gum which issues
August 6, 1813. In the calm of solitary walks, away from those objects which irritate and confuse the mind, we can form the most candid and wise opinions of the human character. I would not let the kindly serenity, which the surrounding images thus produce, lead me into wild and exaggerated praise. But surely it is better to err on the side of admiration, than of detraction; and it is not easy to forgive or excuse Dr. Johnson for the degrading light in which he has set many of our English poets.
It was lucky for Goldsmith, that the life of him did not come within the plan of this great biographer. > Goldsmith, it is true, was his friend, and was often praised by him, when others presumed to censure. But friendship would not always protect from the critic's lash. Collins was his friend: but, how has he treated poor Collins !
The genius of Goldsmith was rather elegant, and marked by a graceful propriety, than sublime or
sponsoresponde aprobado por profiter des proporbenfor
pathetic. It does not appear certain that he loved literature for its own sake. He seems to have considered it only as the means of procuring money, or distinction, if we believe the accounts of him, and the sentiments thrown out in his conversation. But there is sufficient reason to suspect that his conversation was not to be depended upon. His excessive and indiscriminate vanity led him to deceive himself, and, per- S haps, others. We cannot without some hesitation suppose, that the writer of “ The Traveller,"_“ The Deserted Village,” and “The Vicar of Wakefield," did not love the Muse for her own sake. When he speaks of the Muse, as
“ His shame in crowds, his solitary pride,” he seems to have loved her from his heart.
There can scarely be a worse trade or profession than that of authorship. If an income was his object, he was unhappy in the mode he adopted; though more successful in that way than most authors. We cannot attain the power of arresting and communicating to others “the shadowy tribes of mind," without much cultivation; and that cultivation no one can be expected to give without having an intrinsic pleasure in it.
The time, the exhausting toils,
“ The languid tedium of o'erlabour'd thought,”
that these pursuits require and produce, can never 3 be balanced by any pecuniary recompence.
Of poetical minds, Cowley has most happily and beautifully said,
“Where once such fairies dance, no grass doth ever grow."
They certainly are not fitted for worldly profit or success.
We cannot doubt that the head to which the imagery and sentiments of Goldsmith's poetry, and all the amiable and animated creation of his “Vicar of Wakefield" were familiar, must have been almost daily conversant with a variety of refined and exquisite objects, unseen by common eyes, and unknown by common hearts.
“And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest Maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade,
That Trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
Whoever is inclined to believe that the writer of these exquisite lines was insensible to the intrinsic charms of poetry, must have a disposition not only incredulous and uncandid, but not a little ignorant and stupid. Lines such as these do not flow from mere force of understanding, however acutely exercised. They partake of that eloquence of the heart, which cannot be assumed by artifice: they must have been written at the impulse of feelings which were predominant over the rules of composition, and utterly thoughtless of them!
Such is the purity and niceness of a true poetical spirit, that we are apt to suspect, that they, whose conduct is in any degree irregular, are not sincerely imbued with it. But this suspicion is uncharitable. It often happens that the same man is, in solitude and society, a different being. In one he is all virtue; in the other he is foremost in vice. Irregular and unbalanced passions lead him astray; and he yields to the predominance of every blast.,
Of all things, an indiscriminate appetite for distinction becomes the most fatal prey to folly and to vice. To such an appetite, the only safety is Solitude, where the best passions of the mind have room to play.