The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith
Part 4 out of 6
"the elder's birthright". Cunningham here aptly compares
Dryden's epistle 'To Sir Godfrey Kneller', II. 89-92:--
Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth;
For hymns were sung in Eden's happy earth:
But oh, the painter muse, though last in place,
Has seized the blessing first, like Jacob's race.
l. 42. -----
"Party"=faction. Cf. lines 31-2 on Edmund Burke in
Who, born for the Universe, narrow'd his mind,
And to 'party' gave up what was meant for mankind.
l. 50. -----
"Such readers generally admire", etc. 'I suppose this paragraph
to be directed against Paul Whitehead, or Churchill,' writes
Mitford. It was clearly aimed at Churchill, since Prior ('Life',
1837, ii. 54) quotes a portion of a contemporary article in the
'St. James's Chronicle' for February 7-9, 1765, attributed to
Bonnell Thornton, which leaves little room for doubt upon the
question. 'The latter part of this paragraph,' says the writer,
referring to the passage now annotated, 'we cannot help
considering as a reflection on the memory of the late Mr.
Churchill, whose talents as a poet were so greatly and so
deservedly admired, that during his short reign, his merit in
great measure eclipsed that of others; and we think it no mean
acknowledgment of the excellencies of this poem ['The
Traveller'] to say that, like the stars, they appear the more
brilliant now that the sun of our poetry is gone down.'
Churchill died on the 4th of November, 1764, some weeks before
the publication of 'The Traveller'. His powers, it may be, were
misdirected and misapplied; but his rough vigour and his manly
verse deserved a better fate at Goldsmith's hands.
l. 53. -----
"tawdry" was added in the sixth edition of 1770.
l. 56. -----
"blank verse". Cf. 'The Present State of Polite
Learning', 1759, p. 150--'From a desire in the critic of
grafting the spirit of ancient languages upon the English, has
proceeded of late several disagreeable instances of pedantry.
Among the number, I think we may reckon 'blank verse'. Nothing
but the greatest sublimity of subject can render such a measure
pleasing; however, we now see it used on the most trivial
occasions'--by which last remark Goldsmith probably, as
Cunningham thinks, intended to refer to the efforts of Akenside,
Dyer, and Armstrong. His views upon blank verse were shared by
Johnson and Gray. At the date of the present dedication, the
latest offender in this way had been Goldsmith's old colleague
on 'The Monthly Review', Dr. James Grainger, author of 'The
Sugar Cane', which was published in June, 1764. (Cf. also 'The
Bee' for 24th November, 1759, 'An account of the Augustan Age of
l. 62. -----
"and that this principle", etc. In the first edition
this read--'and that this principle in each state, and in our
own in particular, may be carried to a mischievous excess.'
l. 1. -----
"Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow". Mitford (Aldine
edition, 1831, p. 7) compares the following lines from Ovid:--
Solus, inops, exspes, leto poenaeque relictus.
'Metamorphoses', xiv. 217.
Exsul, inops erres, alienaque limina lustres, etc.
"slow". A well-known passage from Boswell must here be
reproduced:--'Chamier once asked him [Goldsmith], what he meant
by 'slow', the last word in the first line of 'The Traveller',
Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow.
Did he mean tardiness of locomotion? Goldsmith, who would say
something without consideration, answered "yes." I [Johnson] was
sitting by, and said, "No, Sir, you do not mean tardiness of
locomotion; you mean, that sluggishness of mind which comes upon
a man in solitude." Chamier believed then that I had written the
line as much as if he had seen me write it.' [Birkbeck Hill's
'Boswell', 1887, iii. 252-3.) It is quite possible, however,
that Goldsmith meant no more than he said.
l. 3. -----
"the rude Carinthian boor". 'Carinthia,' says Cunningham, 'was
visited by Goldsmith in 1755, and still (1853) retains its
character for inhospitality.'
l. 5. -----
"Campania". 'Intended,' says Bolton Corney, 'to denote
'La campagna di Roma'. The portion of it which extends from Rome
to Terracina is scarcely habitable.'
l. 10. -----
"a lengthening chain". Prior compares Letter iii of 'The
Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 5:--'The farther I travel I feel
the pain of separation with stronger force, those ties that bind
me to my native country, and you, are still unbroken. By every
remove, I only drag a greater length of chain.' But, as Mitford
points out, Cibber has a similar thought in his 'Comical
Lovers', 1707, Act v:--'When I am with Florimel, it [my heart]
is still your prisoner, 'it only draws a longer chain after
it'.' And earlier still in Dryden's 'All for Love', 1678, Act
ii, Sc. 1:--
My life on't, he still drags a chain along,
That needs must clog his flight.
l. 17. -----
"with simple plenty crown'd". In the first edition this read
'where mirth and peace abound.'
l. 22. -----
"the luxury of doing good". Prior compares Garth's 'Claremont',
1715, where he speaks of the Druids:--
Hard was their Lodging, homely was their Food,
For all their 'Luxury was doing Good'.
l. 24. -----
"my prime of life". He was seven-and-twenty when he
landed at Dover in February, 1756.
l. 27. -----
"That, like the circle bounding", etc. Cf. 'Vicar of
Wakefield', 1766, ii. 160-1 (ch. x):--'Death, the only friend of
the wretched, for a little while mocks the weary traveller with
the view, and like his horizon, still flies before him.'
l. 30. -----
"And find no spot of all the world my own". Prior
compares his namesake's lines 'In the Beginning of [Jacques]
Robbe's Geography', 1700:--
My destin'd Miles I shall have gone,
By THAMES or MAESE, by PO or RHONE,
And found no Foot of Earth my own.
l. 33. -----
"above the storm's career". Cf. 1. 190 of 'The Deserted
l. 38. -----
"should thankless pride repine?" First edition,
''twere thankless to repine.'
l. 39. -----
"Say, should the philosophic mind", etc. First edition:--
'Twere affectation all, and school-taught pride,
To spurn the splendid things by heaven supply'd
l. 58. -----
"hoard". 'Sum' in the first edition.
l. 66. -----
"Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own". In the first
version this was--
Boldly asserts that country for his own.
l. 75. -----
"And yet, perhaps", etc. In the first edition, for this and the
following five lines appeared these eight:--
And yet, perhaps, if states with states we scan,
Or estimate their bliss on Reason's plan,
Though patriots flatter, and though fools contend,
We still shall find uncertainty suspend;
Find that each good, by Art or Nature given,
To these or those, but makes the balance even:
Find that the bliss of all is much the same,
And patriotic boasting reason's shame!
l. 84. -----
"On Idra's cliffs". Bolton Corney conjectures that
Goldsmith meant 'Idria, a town in Carniola, noted for its
mines.' 'Goldsmith in his "History of Animated Nature" makes
mention of the mines, and spells the name in the same way as
here.' (Mr. J. H. Lobban's 'Select Poems of Goldsmith', 1900, p.
87). Lines 84-5, it may be added, are not in the first edition.
l. 85. -----
"And though the rocky-crested summits frown". In the
And though rough rocks or gloomy summits frown.
ll. 91-2 -----
are not in the first editions.
l. 98. -----
"peculiar", i.e. 'proper,' 'appropriate.'
l. 122. -----
"winnow", i.e. 'waft,' 'disperse.' John Evelyn refers to these
'sea-born gales' in the 'Dedication' of his 'Fumifugium',
1661:--'Those who take notice of the scent of the orange-flowers
from the rivage of Genoa, and St. Pietro dell' Arena; the
blossomes of the rosemary from the Coasts of Spain, many leagues
off at sea; or the manifest, and odoriferous wafts which flow
from Fontenay and Vaugirard, even to Paris in the season of
roses, with the contrary effect of those less pleasing smells
from other accidents, will easily consent to what I suggest
[i.e. the planting of sweet-smelling trees].' ('Miscellaneous
Writings', 1825, p. 208.)
l. 139. -----
"Till, more unsteady', etc. In the first edition:--
But, more unsteady than the southern gale,
Soon Commerce turn'd on other shores her sail.
There is a certain resemblance between this passage and one of
the later paradoxes of Smollett's Lismahago;--'He affirmed, the
nature of commerce was such, that it could not be fixed or
perpetuated, but, having flowed to a certain height, would
immediately begin to ebb, and so continue till the channels
should be left almost dry; but there was no instance of the
tide's rising a second time to any considerable influx in the
same nation' ('Humphry Clinker', 1771, ii. 192. Letter of Mr.
Bramble to Dr. Lewis).
ll. 141-2 -----
are not in the first edition.
l. 144. -----
"Its former strength was but plethoric ill". Cf. 'The
Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 98:--'In short, the state
resembled one of those bodies bloated with disease, whose bulk
is only a symptom of its wretchedness.' [Mitford.]
l. 145. -----
"Yet still the loss", etc. In the first edition:--
Yet, though to fortune lost, here still abide
Some splendid arts, the wrecks of former pride.
l. 150. -----
"The paste-board triumph and the cavalcade". 'Happy
Country [he is speaking of Italy], where the pastoral age begins
to revive! Where the wits even of Rome are united into a rural
groupe of nymphs and swains, under the appellation of modern
Arcadians [i.e. the Bolognese Academy of the 'Arcadi']. Where in
the midst of porticos, processions, and cavalcades, abbes turn'd
into shepherds, and shepherdesses without sheep, indulge their
innocent 'divertimenti'.' ('Present State of Polite Learning',
1759, pp. 50-1.) Some of the 'paste-board triumphs' may be
studied in the plates of Jacques Callot.
l. 153. -----
"By sports like these", etc. A pretty and well-known
story is told with regard to this couplet. Calling once on
Goldsmith, Reynolds, having vainly tried to attract attention,
entered unannounced. 'His friend was at his desk, but with hand
uplifted, and a look directed to another part of the room; where
a little dog sat with difficulty on his haunches, looking
imploringly at his teacher, whose rebuke for toppling over he
had evidently just received. Reynolds advanced, and looked past
Goldsmith's shoulder at the writing on his desk. It seemed to be
some portions of a poem; and looking more closely, he was able
to read a couplet which had been that instant written. The ink
of the second line was wet:--
By sports like these are all their cares beguil'd;
The sports of children satisfy the child.
(Forster's 'Life', 1871, i. pp. 347-8).
l. 154. -----
"The sports of children". This line, in the first edition, was
At sports like these, while foreign arms advance,
In passive ease they leave the world to chance.
l. 155. -----
"Each nobler aim", etc. The first edition reads:--
When struggling Virtue sinks by long controul,
She leaves at last, or feebly mans the soul.
This was changed in the second, third, fourth, and fifth
When noble aims have suffer'd long controul,
They sink at last, or feebly man the soul.
l. 169. -----
"No product here", etc. The Swiss mercenaries, here referred
to, were long famous in European warfare.
They parted with a thousand kisses,
And fight e'er since for pay, like Swisses.
Gay's 'Aye and No, a Fable'.
l. 185. -----
This fine use of 'breasts'--as Cunningham points out--is given
by Johnson as an example in his Dictionary.
l. 187. -----
"With patient angle, trolls the finny deep". 'Troll,' i.e. as
for pike. Goldsmith uses 'finny prey' in 'The Citizen of the
World', 1762, ii. 99:--'The best manner to draw up the 'finny
prey'.' Cf. also 'warbling grove,' 'Deserted Village', l. 361,
as a parallel to 'finny deep.'
l. 190. -----
"the struggling savage", i.e. wolf or bear. Mitford
compares the following:--'He is a beast of prey, and the laws
should make use of as many stratagems and as much force to drive
the 'reluctant savage' into the toils, as the Indians when they
hunt the hyena or the rhinoceros.' ('Citizen of the World',
1762, i. 112.) See also Pope's 'Iliad', Bk. xvii:--
But if the 'savage' turns his glaring eye,
They howl aloof, and round the forest fly.
ll. 201-2 -----
are not in the first edition.
l. 213. -----
"For every want", etc. Mitford quotes a parallel
passage in 'Animated Nature', 1774, ii. 123:--
'Every want thus becomes a means of pleasure, in the redressing.'
l. 228. -----
"Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low".
Probably Goldsmith only uses 'low' here in its primitive sense,
and not in that which, in his own day, gave so much umbrage to
so many eighteenth-century students of humanity in the rough.
Cf. Fielding, 'Tom Jones', 1749, iii. 6:--'Some of the Author's
Friends cry'd--"Look'e, Gentlemen, the Man is a Villain; but it
is Nature for all that." And all the young Critics of the Age,
the Clerks, Apprentices, etc., called it 'Low' and fell a
Groaning.' See also 'Tom Jones', iv. 94, and 226-30. 'There's
nothing comes out but the 'most lowest' stuff in nature'--says
Lady Blarney in ch. xi of the 'Vicar', whose author is eloquent
on this topic in 'The Present State of Polite Learning', 1759,
pp. 154-6, and in 'She Stoops to Conquer, 1773 (Act i); while
Graves ('Spiritual Quixote', 1772, bk. i, ch. vi) gives the
fashion the scientific appellation of 'tapino-phoby,' which he
defines as 'a dread of everything that is 'low', either in
writing or in conversation.' To Goldsmith, if we may trust
George Colman's 'Prologue' to Miss Lee's 'Chapter of Accidents',
1780, belongs the credit of exorcising this particular form of
When Fielding, Humour's fav'rite child, appear'd,
'Low' was the word--a word each author fear'd!
Till chas'd at length, by pleasantry's bright ray,
Nature and mirth resum'd their legal sway;
And Goldsmith's genius bask'd in open day.
According to Borrow's 'Lavengro', ch. xli, Lord Chesterfield
considered that the speeches of Homer's heroes were frequently
l. 243. -----
"How often", etc. This and the lines which immediately
follow are autobiographical. Cf. George Primrose's story in 'The
Vicar of Wakefield', 1766, ii. 24-5 (ch. i):--'I passed among
the harmless peasants of Flanders, and among such of the French
as were poor enough to be very merry; for I ever found them
sprightly in proportion to their wants. Whenever I approached a
peasant's house towards night-fall, I played one of my most
merry tunes, and that procured me not only a lodging, but
subsistence for the next day.'
l. 253. -----
"gestic lore", i.e. traditional gestures or motions.
Scott uses the word 'gestic' in 'Peveril of the Peak', ch. xxx,
where King Charles the Second witnesses the dancing of
Fenella:--'He bore time to her motions with the movement of his
foot--applauded with head and with hand--and seemed, like
herself, carried away by the enthusiasm of the 'gestic' art.'
l. 256. -----
"Thus idly busy rolls their world away". Pope has 'Life's
'idle business'' ('Unfortunate Lady', l. 81), and--
The 'busy, idle' blockheads of the ball.
Donne's 'Satires', iv. l. 203.
l. 264. -----
"And all are taught an avarice of praise". Professor Hales
('Longer English Poems') compares Horace of the Greeks:--
Praeter laudem, nullius avaris.
'Ars Poetica', l. 324.
l. 275. -----
"copper lace". 'St Martin's lace,' for which, in Strype's day,
Blowbladder St. was famous. Cf. the actress's 'copper tail' in
'Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 60.
l. 281. -----
"To men of other minds", etc. Prior compares with the
description that follows a passage in vol. i. p. 276 of
'Animated Nature', 1774:--'But we need scarce mention these,
when we find that the whole kingdom of Holland seems to be a
conquest upon the sea, and in a manner rescued from its bosom.
The surface of the earth, in this country, is below the level of
the bed of the sea; and I remember, upon approaching the coast,
to have looked down upon it from the sea, as into a valley.'
l. 284. -----
"Where the broad ocean leans against the land". Cf.
Dryden in 'Annus Mirabilis', 1666, st. clxiv. l. 654:--
And view the ocean leaning on the sky.
l. 286. -----
"the tall rampire's", i.e. rampart's (Old French, 'rempart,
rempar'). Cf. 'Timon of Athens', Act v. Sc. 4:--
'Our rampir'd gates.'
l. 299. -----
"bosom reign" in the first edition was 'breast obtain.'
l. 306. -----
"Even liberty itself is barter'd here". 'Slavery,' says
Mitford, 'was permitted in Holland; children were sold by their
parents for a certain number of years.'
l. 309. -----
"A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves". Goldsmith uses this
very line as prose in Letter xxxiv of
'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 147.
l. 310. -----
"dishonourable graves". 'Julius Caesar', Act i. Sc. 2.
l. 313. -----
"Heavens! how unlike", etc. Prior compares a passage from a
manuscript 'Introduction to the History of the Seven Years'
War':--'How unlike the brave peasants their ancestors, who
spread terror into either India, and always declared themselves
the allies of those who drew the sword in defence of freedom*.'
[footnote] *J. W. M. Gibbs ('Works', v. 9) discovered that parts
of this 'History', hitherto supposed to have been written in
1761, were published in the 'Literary Magazine', 1757-8.
l. 320. -----
"famed Hydaspes", i.e. the 'fabulosus Hydaspes' of
Horace, Bk. i. Ode xxii, and the 'Medus Hydaspes' of Virgil,
'Georg', iv. 211, of which so many stores were told. It is now
known as the Jhilum, one of the five rivers which give the
Punjaub its name.
l. 327. -----
"Pride in their port", etc. In the first edition these
two lines were inverted.
l. 343. -----
"Here by the bonds of nature feebly held". In the
See, though by circling deeps together held.
l. 349. -----
"Nature's ties" was 'social bonds' in the first edition.
l. 358. -----
"Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame". In the
first edition this line read:--
And monarchs toil, and poets pant for fame.
l. 361. -----
"Yet think not', etc. 'In the things I have hitherto
written I have neither allured the vanity of the great by
flattery, nor satisfied the malignity of the vulgar by scandal,
but I have endeavoured to get an honest reputation by liberal
(Preface to 'English History'.) [Mitford.]
l. 363. -----
"Ye powers of truth", etc. The first version has:--
Perish the wish; for, inly satisfy'd,
Above their pomps I hold my ragged pride.
Mr. Forster thinks ('Life', 1871, i. 375) that Goldsmith altered
this (i.e. 'ragged pride') because, like the omitted 'Haud
inexpertus loquor' of the 'Enquiry', it involved an undignified
ll. 365-80 -----
are not in the first edition.
l. 382. -----
"Contracting regal power to stretch their own". 'It is
the interest of the great, therefore, to diminish kingly power
as much as possible; because whatever they take from it is
naturally restored to themselves; and all they have to do in a
state, is to undermine the single tyrant, by which they resume
their primaeval authority.' ('Vicar of Wakefield', 1766, i. 202,
l. 383. -----
"When I behold", etc. Prior compares a passage in
Letter xlix of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 218, where
the Roman senators are spoken of as still flattering the people
'with a shew of freedom, while themselves only were free.'
l. 386. -----
"Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law".
Prior notes a corresponding utterance in 'The Vicar of
Wakefield', 1766, i. 206, ch. xix:--'What they may then expect,
may be seen by turning our eyes to Holland, Genoa, or Venice,
where the laws govern the poor, and the rich govern the law.'
l. 392. -----
"I fly from petty tyrants to the throne". Cf. Dr.
Primrose, 'ut supra', p. 201:--'The generality of mankind also
are of my way of thinking, and have unanimously created one
king, whose election at once diminishes the number of tyrants,
and puts tyranny at the greatest distance from the greatest
number of people.' Cf. also Churchill, 'The Farewell', ll. 363-4
Let not a Mob of Tyrants seize the helm,
Nor titled upstarts league to rob the realm...
Let us, some comfort in our griefs to bring,
Be slaves to one, and be that one a King.
ll. 393-4. -----
Goldsmith's first thought was--
Yes, my lov'd brother, cursed be that hour
When first ambition toil'd for foreign power,--
an entirely different couplet to that in the text, and certainly
more logical. (Dobell's 'Prospect of Society', 1902, pp. xi, 2,
and Notes, v, vi). Mr. Dobell plausibly suggests that this Tory
substitution is due to Johnson.
l. 397. -----
"Have we not seen", etc. These lines contain the first
idea of the subsequent poem of 'The Deserted Village' ('q.v.').
l. 411. -----
"Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around". The
Oswego is a river which runs between Lakes Oneida and Ontario.
In the 'Threnodia Augustalis', 1772, Goldsmith writes:--
Oswego's dreary shores shall be my grave.
The 'desarts of Oswego' were familiar to the eighteenth-century
reader in connexion with General Braddock's ill-fated expedition
of 1755, an account of which Goldsmith had just given in 'An
History of England, in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to
his Son', 1764, ii. 202-4.
l. 416. -----
"marks with murderous aim". In the first edition
'takes a deadly aim.'
l. 419. -----
"pensive exile". This, in the version mentioned in the
next note, was 'famish'd exile.'
l. 420. -----
"To stop too fearful, and too faint to go". This line,
upon Boswell's authority, is claimed for Johnson (Birkbeck
Hill's 'Boswell', 1887, ii. 6). Goldsmith's original ran:--
And faintly fainter, fainter seems to go.
(Dobell's 'Prospect of Society', 1902, p. 3).
l. 429. -----
"How small, of all," etc. Johnson wrote these
concluding ten lines with the exception of the penultimate
couplet. They and line 420 were all--he told Boswell--of which
he could be sure (Birkbeck Hill's 'Boswell, ut supra'). Like
Goldsmith, he sometimes worked his prose ideas into his verse.
The first couplet is apparently a reminiscence of a passage in
his own 'Rasselas', 1759, ii. 112, where the astronomer speaks
of 'the task of a king...who has the care only of a few
millions, to whom he cannot do much good or harm.' (Grant's
'Johnson', 1887, p. 89.) 'I would not give half a guinea to live
under one form of government rather than another,' he told that
'vile Whig,' Sir Adam Fergusson, in 1772. 'It is of no moment to
the happiness of an individual' (Birkbeck Hill's 'Boswell',
1887, ii. 170).
l. 435. -----
"The lifted axe". Mitford here recalls Blackmore's
Some the sharp axe, and some the painful wheel.
The 'lifted axe' he also traces to Young and Blackmore, with
both of whom Goldsmith seems to have been familiar; but it is
surely not necessary to assume that he borrowed from either in
l. 436. -----
"Luke's iron crown". George and Luke Dosa, or Doscha,
headed a rebellion in Hungary in 1513. The former was proclaimed
king by the peasants; and, in consequence suffered, among other
things, the torture of the red-hot iron crown. Such a punishment
took place at Bordeaux when Montaigne was seventeen (Morley's
Florio's 'Montaigne', 1886, p. xvi). Much ink has been shed over
Goldsmith's lapse of 'Luke' for George. In the book which he
cited as his authority, the family name of the brothers was
given as Zeck,--hence Bolton Corney, in his edition of the
'Poetical Works', 1845, p. 36, corrected the line to--
'Zeck's' iron crown, etc.,
an alteration which has been adopted by other editors. (See
also Forster's 'Life', 1871, i. 370.)
"Damien's bed of steel". Robert-Francois Damiens, 1714-57.
Goldsmith writes 'Damien's.' In the 'Gentlemen's Magazine' for
1757, vol. xxvii. pp. 87 and 151, where there is an account of
this poor half-witted wretch's torture and execution for
attempting to assassinate Louis XV, the name is thus spelled, as
also in other contemporary records and caricatures. The
following passage explains the 'bed of steel':--'Being conducted
to the Conciergerie, an 'iron bed', which likewise served for a
chair, was prepared for him, and to this he was fastened with
chains. The torture was again applied, and a physician ordered
to attend to see what degree of pain he could support,' etc.
(Smollett's 'History of England', 1823, bk. iii, ch. 7, ¤ xxv.)
Goldsmith's own explanation--according to Tom Davies, the
bookseller--was that he meant the rack. But Davies may have
misunderstood him, or Goldsmith himself may have forgotten the
facts. (See Forster's 'Life', 1871, i. 370.) At pp. 57-78 of the
'Monthly Review' for July, 1757 (upon which Goldsmith was at
this date employed), is a summary, 'from our correspondent at
Paris,' of the official record of the Damiens' Trial, 4 vols. 12
mo.; and his deed and tragedy make a graphic chapter in the
remarkable 'Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous', by George
Augustus Sala, 1863, iii. pp. 154-180.
l. 438. -----
In the first edition of 'The Traveller' there are only
THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
After having been for some time announced as in preparation, 'The
Deserted Village' made its first appearance on May 26, 1770*. It was
received with great enthusiasm. In June a second, third, and fourth
edition followed, and in August a fifth was published. The text here
given is that of the fourth edition, which was considerably revised.
Johnson, we are told, thought 'The Deserted Village' inferior to 'The
Traveller': but 'time,' to use Mr. Forster's words, 'has not confirmed
'that' judgment.' Its germ is perhaps to be found in ll. 397-402 of the
earlier poem. Much research has been expended in the endeavour to
identify the scene with Lissoy, the home of the poet's youth (see
'Introduction', p. ix); but the result has only been partially
successful. The truth seems that Goldsmith, living in England, recalled
in a poem that was English in its conception many of the memories and
accessories of his early life in Ireland, without intending or even
caring to draw an exact picture. Hence, as Lord Macaulay has observed,
in a much criticized and characteristic passage, 'it is made up of
incongruous parts. The village in its happy days is a true English
village. The village in its decay is an Irish village. The felicity and
the misery which Goldsmith has brought close together belong to two
different countries, and to two different stages in the progress of
society. He had assuredly never seen in his native island such a rural
paradise, such a seat of plenty, content, and tranquillity, as his
"Auburn." He had assuredly never seen in England all the inhabitants of
such a paradise turned out of their homes in one day and forced to
emigrate in a body to America. The hamlet he had probably seen in Kent;
the ejectment he had probably seen in Munster; but, by joining the two,
he has produced something which never was and never will be seen in any
part of the world.' ('Encyclop. Britannica', 1856.) It is obvious also
that in some of his theories--the depopulation of the kingdom, for
example--Goldsmith was mistaken. But it was not for its didactic
qualities then, nor is it for them now, that 'The Deserted Village'
delighted and delights. It maintains its popularity by its charming
'genre'-pictures, its sweet and tender passages, its simplicity, its
sympathetic hold upon the enduring in human nature. To test it solely
with a view to establish its topographical accuracy, or to insist too
much upon the value of its ethical teaching, is to mistake its real
mission as a work of art.
[footnote] *In the American 'Bookman' for February, 1901, pp. 563-7, Mr.
Luther S. Livingston gives an account (with facsimile title-pages) of
three 'octavo' (or rather duodecimo) editions all dated 1770; and
ostensibly printed for 'W. Griffin, at Garrick's Head, in
Catherine-street, Strand.' He rightly describes their existence as 'a
bibliographical puzzle.' They afford no important variations; are not
mentioned by the early editors; and are certainly not in the form in
which the poem was first advertised and reviewed, as this was a quarto.
But they are naturally of interest to the collector; and the late
Colonel Francis Grant, a good Goldsmith scholar, described one of them
in the 'Athenaeum' for June 20, 1896 (No. 3582).
"Dedication", l. 6. -----
"I am ignorant of that art in which you are
said to excel". This modest confession did not prevent Goldsmith
from making fun of the contemporary connoisseur. See the letter
from the young virtuoso in 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i.
145, announcing that a famous 'torse' has been discovered to be
not 'a Cleopatra bathing' but 'a Hercules spinning'; and Charles
Primrose's experiences at Paris ('Vicar of Wakefield', 1766, ii.
l. 14. -----
"He is since dead". Henry Goldsmith died in May, 1768,
at the age of forty-five, being then curate of Kilkenny West.
(See note, p. 164.)
l. 33. -----
"a long poem". 'I might dwell upon such thoughts...were
I not afraid of making this preface too tedious; especially
since I shall want all the patience of the reader, for having
enlarged it with the following verses.' (Tickell's Preface to
Addison's 'Works', at end.)
l. 35. -----
"the increase of our luxuries". The evil of luxury was
a 'common topick' with Goldsmith. (Birkbeck Hill's 'Boswell',
1887, ii. 217-8.) Smollett also, speaking with the voice of
Lismahago, and continuing the quotation on p. 169, was of the
opinion that 'the sudden affluence occasioned by trade, forced
open all the sluices of luxury, and overflowed the land with
every species of profligacy and corruption.' ('Humphry Clinker',
1771, ii. 192.--Letter of Mr. Bramble to Dr. Lewis.)
l. 1. -----
"'Sweet' AUBURN". Forster, 'Life', 1871, ii. 206, says
that Goldsmith obtained this name from Bennet Langton. There is
an Aldbourn or Auburn in Wiltshire, not far from Marlborough,
which Prior thinks may have furnished the suggestion.
l. 6. -----
"Seats of my youth". This alone would imply that
Goldsmith had in mind the environment of his Irish home.
l. 12. -----
"The decent church that topp'd the neighbouring hill".
This corresponds with the church of Kilkenny West as seen from
the house at Lissoy.
l. 13. -----
"The hawthorn bush". The Rev. Annesley Strean, Henry
Goldsmith's successor at Kilkenny West, well remembered the
hawthorn bush in front of the village ale-house. It had
originally three trunks; but when he wrote in 1807 only one
remained, 'the other two having been cut, from time to time, by
persons carrying pieces of it away to be made into toys, etc.,
in honour of the bard, and of the celebrity of his poem.'
('Essay on Light Reading', by the Rev. Edward Mangin, M.A.,
1808, 142-3.) Its remains were enclosed by a Captain Hogan
previously to 1819; but nevertheless when Prior visited the
place in 1830, nothing was apparent but 'a very tender shoot
[which] had again forced its way to the surface.' (Prior,
'Life', 1837, ii. 264.) An engraving of the tree by S. Alken,
from a sketch made in 1806-9, is to be found at p. 41 of
Goldsmith's 'Poetical Works', R. H. Newell's edition, 1811, and
is reproduced in the present volume.
l. 15. -----
"How often have I bless'd the coming day". Prior,
'Life', 1837, ii. 261, finds in this an allusion 'to the Sundays
or numerous holidays, usually kept in Roman Catholic countries.'
l. 37. -----
"Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen". Strean's
explanation (Mangin, 'ut supra', pp. 140-1) of this is as
follows:--'The poem of 'The Deserted Village', took its origin
from the circumstance of general Robert Napper [Napier or
Naper], (the grandfather of the gentleman who now  lives
in the house, within half a mile of Lissoy, and built by the
general) having purchased an extensive tract of the country
surrounding Lissoy, or 'Auburn'; in consequence of which many
families, here called 'cottiers', were removed, to make room for
the intended improvements of what was now to become the wide
domain of a rich man, warm with the idea of changing the face of
his new acquisition; and were forced, "with fainting steps," to
go in search of "torrid tracts" and "distant climes."'
Prior ('Life', 1837, i. 40-3) points out that Goldsmith was not
the first to give poetical expression to the wrongs of the
dispossessed Irish peasantry; and he quotes a long extract from
the 'Works' (1741) of a Westmeath poet, Lawrence Whyte, which
contains such passages as these:--
Their native soil were forced to quit,
So Irish landlords thought it fit;
Who without ceremony or rout,
For their improvements turn'd them out...
How many villages they razed,
How many parishes laid waste...
Whole colonies, to shun the fate
Of being oppress'd at such a rate,
By tyrants who still raise their rent,
Sail'd to the Western Continent.
l. 44. -----
"The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest". 'Of all
those sounds,' says Goldsmith, speaking of the cries of
waterfowl, 'there is none so dismally hollow as the booming of
the bittern.' ...'I remember in the place where I was a boy with
what terror this bird's note affected the whole village; they
considered it as the presage of some sad event; and generally
found or made one to succeed it.' ('Animated Nature', 1774, vi.
Bewick, who may be trusted to speak of a bird which he has drawn
with such exquisite fidelity, refers ('Water Birds', 1847, p.
49) to 'the hollow booming noise which the bittern makes during
the night, in the breeding season, from its swampy retreats.'
Cf. also that close observer Crabbe ('The Borough', Letter xxii,
And the loud bittern, from the bull-rush home,
Gave from the salt-ditch side the bellowing boom.
l. 53. -----
"Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made".
Mitford compares 'Confessio Amantis', fol. 152:--
A kynge may make a lorde a knave,
And of a knave a lord also;
and Professor Hales recalls Burns's later line in the 'Cotter's
Saturday Night', 1785:--
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings.
But Prior finds the exact equivalent of the second line in the
verses of an old French poet, De. Caux, upon an hour-glass:--
C'est un verre qui luit,
Qu'un souffle peut detruire, et qu'un souffle a produit.
l. 57. -----
"A time there was, ere England's griefs began". Here
wherever the locality of Auburn, the author had clearly England
in mind. A caustic commentator has observed that the 'time'
indicated must have been a long while ago.
l. 67. -----
"opulence". In the first edition the word is 'luxury.'
l. 79. -----
"And, many a year elapsed, return to view". 'It is
strongly contended at Lishoy, that "the Poet," as he is usually
called there, after his pedestrian tour upon the Continent of
Europe, returned to and resided in the village some time.... It
is moreover believed, that the havock which had been made in his
absence among those favourite scenes of his youth, affected his
mind so deeply, that he actually composed great part of the
Deserted Village 'at' Lishoy.' ('Poetical Works, with Remarks',
etc., by the Rev. R. H. Newell, 1811, p. 74.)
Notwithstanding the above, there is no evidence that Goldsmith
ever returned to his native island. In a letter to his
brother-in-law, Daniel Hodson, written in 1758, he spoke of
hoping to do so 'in five or six years.' ('Percy Memoir', 1801,
i. 49). But in another letter, written towards the close of his
life, it is still a thing to come. 'I am again,' he says, 'just
setting out for Bath, and I honestly say I had much rather it
had been for Ireland with my nephew, but that pleasure I hope to
have before I die.' (Letter to Daniel Hodson, no date, in
possession of the late Frederick Locker Lampson.)
l. 80. -----
"Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew". Here
followed, in the first edition:--
Here, as with doubtful, pensive steps I range,
Trace every scene, and wonder at the change,
l. 84. "In all my griefs--and God has given my share". Prior
notes a slight similarity here to a line of Collins:--
Ye mute companions of my toils, that bear,
'In all my griefs', a more than equal share!
'Hassan; or, The Camel Driver'.
In 'The Present State of Polite Learning', 1759, p. 143,
Goldsmith refers feelingly to 'the neglected author of the
Persian eclogues, which, however inaccurate, excel any in our
language.' He included four of them in 'The Beauties of English
Poesy', 1767, i. pp. 239-53.
l. 87. -----
"To husband out", etc. In the first edition this ran:--
My anxious day to husband near the close,
And keep life's flame from wasting by repose.
l. 96. -----
"Here to return--and die at home at last". Forster
compares a passage in 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii.
153:--'There is something so seducing in that spot in which we
first had existence, that nothing but it can please; whatever
vicissitudes we experience in life, however we toil, or
wheresoever we wander, our fatigued wishes still recur to home
for tranquillity, we long to die in that spot which gave us
birth, and in that pleasing expectation opiate every calamity.'
The poet Waller too--he adds--wished to die 'like the stag where
he was roused.' ('Life', 1871, ii. 202.)
l. 99. -----
"How happy he". 'How blest is he' in the first edition.
l. 102. -----
"And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly".
Mitford compares 'The Bee' for October 13, 1759, p. 56:--'By
struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds
in the conflict. The only method to come off victorious, is by
l. 105. -----
"surly porter". Mr. J. M. Lobban compares the 'Citizen
of the World', 1762, i. 123:--'I never see a nobleman's door
half opened that some surly porter or footman does not stand
full in the breach.' ('Select Poems of Goldsmith', 1900, p. 98.)
l. 109. -----
"Bends". 'Sinks' in the first edition. "unperceived
decay". Cf. Johnson, 'Vanity of Human Wishes', 1749, l. 292:--
An age that melts with unperceiv'd decay,
And glides in modest innocence away;
and 'Irene', Act ii, Sc. 7:--
And varied life steal unperceiv'd away.
l. 110. -----
"While Resignation", etc. In 1771 Sir Joshua exhibited
a picture of 'An Old Man,' studied from the beggar who was his
model for Ugolino. When it was engraved by Thomas Watson in
1772, he called it 'Resignation,' and inscribed the print to
Goldsmith in the following words:--'This attempt to express a
Character in 'The Deserted Village', is dedicated to Dr.
Goldsmith, by his sincere Friend and admirer, JOSHUA REYNOLDS.'
l. 114. -----
"Up yonder hill". It has been suggested that Goldsmith
was here thinking of the little hill of Knockaruadh (Red Hill)
in front of Lissoy parsonage, of which there is a sketch in
Newell's 'Poetical Works', 1811. When Newell wrote, it was
already known as 'Goldsmith's mount'; and the poet himself
refers to it in a letter to his brother-in-law Hodson, dated
Dec. 27, 1757:--'I had rather be placed on the little mount
before Lishoy gate, and there take in, to me, the most pleasing
horizon in nature.' ('Percy Memoir', 1801, p. 43.)
l. 124. -----
"And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made". In
'Animated Nature', 1774, v. 328, Goldsmith says:--'The
nightingale's pausing song would be the proper epithet for this
bird's music.' [Mitford.]
l. 126. -----
"No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale". (Cf.
Goldsmith's Essay on 'Metaphors' ('British
Magazine'):--'Armstrong has used the word 'fluctuate' with
admirable efficacy, in his philosophical poem entitled 'The Art
of Preserving Health'.
Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all
The sounding forest 'fluctuates' in the storm,
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Howl o'er the steady battlements.
l. 136. -----
"The sad historian of the pensive plain". Strean (see
note to l. 13) identified the old watercress gatherer as a
certain Catherine Giraghty (or Geraghty). Her children (he said)
were still living in the neighbourhood of Lissoy in 1807.
(Mangin's 'Essay on Light Reading', 1808, p. 142.)
l. 140. -----
"The village preacher's modest mansion rose". 'The
Rev. Charles Goldsmith is allowed by all that knew him, to have
been faithfully represented by his son in the character of the
Village Preacher.' So writes his daughter, Catharine Hodson
('Percy Memoir', 1801, p. 3). Others, relying perhaps upon the
'forty pounds a year' of the Dedication to 'The Traveller', make
the poet's brother Henry the original; others, again, incline to
kindly Uncle Contarine ('vide Introduction'). But as Prior
justly says ('Life', 1837, ii. 249), 'the fact perhaps is that
he fixed upon no one individual, but borrowing like all good
poets and painters a little from each, drew the character by
l. 142. -----
"with forty pounds a year". Cf. Dedication to 'The
Traveller', p. 3, l. 14.
l. 145. -----
"Unpractis'd". 'Unskilful' in the first edition.
l. 148. -----
"More skilled". 'More bent' in the first edition.
l. 151. -----
"The long remember'd beggar". 'The same persons,' says
Prior, commenting upon this passage, 'are seen for a series of
years to traverse the same tract of country at certain
intervals, intrude into every house which is not defended by the
usual outworks of wealth, a gate and a porter's lodge, exact
their portion of the food of the family, and even find an
occasional resting-place for the night, or from severe weather,
in the chimney-corner of respectable farmers.' ('Life', 1837,
ii. 269.) Cf. Scott on the Scottish mendicants in the
'Advertisement' to 'The Antiquary', 1816, and Leland's 'Hist. of
Ireland', 1773, i. 35.
l. 155. -----
"The broken soldier". The disbanded soldier let loose
upon the country at the conclusion of the 'Seven Years' War' was
a familiar figure at this period. Bewick, in his 'Memoir'
('Memorial Edition'), 1887, pp. 44-5, describes some of these
ancient campaigners with their battered old uniforms and their
endless stories of Minden and Quebec; and a picture of two of
them by T. S. Good of Berwick belonged to the late Mr. Locker
Lampson. Edie Ochiltree ('Antiquary')--it may be remembered--had
fought at Fontenoy.
l. 170. -----
"Allur'd to brighter worlds". Cf. Tickell on
Addison--'Saints who taught and led the way to Heaven.'
l. 180. -----
"And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray".
Prior compares the opening lines of Dryden's 'Britannia
Our vows are heard betimes, and heaven takes care
To grant, before we can conclude the prayer;
Preventing angels met it half the way,
And sent us back to praise, who came to pray.
l. 189. -----
"As some tall cliff", etc. Lucan, Statius, and
Claudian have been supposed to have helped Goldsmith to this
fine and deservedly popular simile. But, considering his obvious
familiarity with French literature, and the rarity of his
'obligations to the ancients,' it is not unlikely that, as
suggested by a writer in the 'Academy' for Oct. 30, 1886, his
source of suggestion is to be found in the following passage of
an Ode addressed by Chapelain (1595-1674) to Richelieu:--
Dans un paisible mouvement
Tu t'eleves au firmament,
Et laisses contre toi murmurer cette terre;
Ainsi le haut Olympe, a son pied sablonneux,
Laisse fumer la foudre et gronder le tonnerre,
Et garde son sommet tranquille et lumineux.
Or another French model--indicated by Mr. Forster ('Life', 1871,
ii. 115-16) by the late Lord Lytton--may have been these lines
from a poem by the Abbe de Chaulieu (1639-1720):--
Au milieu cependant de ces peines cruelles
De notre triste hiver, compagnes trop fideles,
Je suis tranquille et gai. Quel bien plus precieux
Puis-je esperer jamais de la bonte des dieux!
Tel qu'un rocher dont la tete,
Egalant le Mont Athos,
Voit a ses pieds la tempete
Troubler le calme des flots,
La mer autour bruit et gronde;
Malgre ses emotions,
Sur son front eleve regne une paix profonde,
Que tant d'agitations
Et que ses fureurs de l'onde
Respectent a l'egal du nid des alcyons.
On the other hand, Goldsmith may have gone no further than
Young's 'Complaint: Night the Second', 1742, p. 42, where, as
Mitford points out, occur these lines:--
As some tall Tow'r, or lofty Mountain's Brow,
Detains the Sun, Illustrious from its Height,
While rising Vapours, and descending Shades,
With Damps, and Darkness drown the Spatious Vale:
Undampt by Doubt, Undarken'd by Despair,
'Philander', thus, augustly rears his Head.
Prior also ('Life', 1837, ii. 252) prints a passage from
'Animated Nature', 1774, i. 145, derived from Ulloa, which
perhaps served as the raw material of the simile.
l. 201. -----
"Full well they laugh'd", etc. Steele, in 'Spectator',
No. 49 (for April 26, 1711) has a somewhat similar
thought:--'"Eubulus" has so great an Authority in his little
Diurnal Audience, that when he shakes his Head at any Piece of
publick News, they all of them appear dejected; and, on the
contrary, go home to their Dinners with a good Stomach and
chearful Aspect, when "Eubulus" seems to intimate that Things go
l. 205. -----
"Yet he was kind", etc. For the rhyme of 'fault' and
'aught' in this couplet Prior cites the precedent of Pope:--
Before his sacred name flies ev'ry fault,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought!
('Essay on Criticism', l. 422).
He might also have cited Waller, who elides the 'l':--
Were we but less indulgent to our fau'ts,
And patience had to cultivate our thoughts.
Goldsmith uses a like rhyme in 'Edwin and Angelina',
But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
And well my life shall pay;
I'll seek the solitude he sought,
And stretch me where he lay.
Cf. also 'Retaliation', ll. 73-4. Perhaps--as indeed Prior
suggests--he pronounced 'fault' in this fashion.
l. 216. -----
"That one small head could carry all he knew". Some of
the traits of this portrait are said to be borrowed from
Goldsmith's own master at Lissoy:--'He was instructed in
reading, writing, and arithmetic'--says his sister Catherine,
Mrs. Hodson--'by a schoolmaster in his father's village, who had
been a quartermaster in the army in Queen Anne's wars, in that
detachment which was sent to Spain: having travelled over a
considerable part of Europe and being of a very romantic turn,
he used to entertain Oliver with his adventures; and the
impressions these made on his scholar were believed by the
family to have given him that wandering and unsettled turn which
so much appeared in his future life.' ('Percy Memoir', 1801, pp.
3-4.) The name of this worthy, according to Strean, was Burn
(Byrne). (Mangin's 'Essay on Light Reading', 1808, p. 142.)
l. 219. -----
"Near yonder thorn". See note to l. 13.
l. 229. -----
"The chest contriv'd a double debt to pay". Cf. the
'Description of an Author's Bedchamber', p. 48, l. ult. :--
A cap by night--a stocking all the day!
l. 232. "The twelve good rules". 'A constant one' (i.e.
picture) 'in every house was "King Charles' Twelve Good Rules."'
(Bewick's 'Memoir', 'Memorial Edition,' 1887, p. 262.) This old
broadside, surmounted by a rude woodcut of the King's execution,
is still prized by collectors. The rules, as 'found in the study
of King Charles the First, of Blessed Memory,' are as
'1. Urge no healths;
2. Profane no divine ordinances;
3. Touch no state matters;
4. Reveal no secrets;
5. Pick no quarrels;
6. Make no comparisons;
7. Maintain no ill opinions;
8. Keep no bad company;
9. Encourage no vice;
10. Make no long meals;
11. Repeat no grievances;
12. Lay no Wagers.
Prior, 'Misc. Works', 1837, iv. 63, points out that Crabbe also
makes the 'Twelve Good Rules' conspicuous in the 'Parish
Register' (ll. 51-2):--
There is King Charles, and all his Golden Rules,
Who proved Misfortune's was the best of schools.
Her late Majesty, Queen Victoria, kept a copy of these rules in
the servants' hall at Windsor Castle.
"the royal game of goose". The 'Royal and Entertaining Game of
the Goose' is described at length in Strutt's 'Sports and
Pastimes', bk. iv, ch. 2 (xxv). It may be briefly defined as a
game of compartments with different titles through which the
player progresses according to the numbers he throws with the
dice. At every fourth or fifth compartment is depicted a goose,
and if the player's cast falls upon one of these, he moves
forward double the number of his throw.
l. 235. -----
"While broken tea-cups". Cf. the 'Description of an
Author's Bedchamber', p. 48, l. 18:--
And five crack'd teacups dress'd the chimney board.
Mr. Hogan, who repaired or rebuilt the ale-house at Lissoy, did
not forget, besides restoring the 'Royal Game of Goose' and the
'Twelve Good Rules,' to add the broken teacups, 'which for
better security in the frail tenure of an Irish publican, or the
doubtful decorum of his guests, were embedded in the mortar.'
(Prior, 'Life', 1837, ii. 265.)
l. 250. -----
"Shall kiss the cup.". Cf. Scott's 'Lochinvar':--
The bride kissed the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff'd off the wine and he threw down the cup.
Cf. also 'The History of Miss Stanton' ('British Magazine',
July, 1760).--'The earthen mug went round. 'Miss touched the
cup', the stranger pledged the parson.' etc.
l. 268. -----
"Between a splendid and a happy land". Prior compares
'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 98:--'Too much commerce may
injure a nation as well as too little; and...there is a wide
difference between a conquering and a flourishing empire.'
l. 310. -----
"To see profusion that he must not share". Cf.
'Animated Nature', iv. p. 43:--'He only guards those luxuries he
is not fated to share.' [Mitford.]
l. 313. -----
"To see those joys". Up to the third edition the words
were 'each joy'.
l. 318. -----
"There the black gibbet glooms beside the way". The
gallows, under the savage penal laws of the eighteenth century,
by which horse-stealing, forgery, shop-lifting, and even the
cutting of a hop-bind in a plantation were punishable with
death, was a common object in the landscape. Cf. 'Vicar of
Wakefield', 1706, ii. 122:--'Our possessions are paled up with
new edicts every day, and hung round with gibbets to scare every
invader'; and 'Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 63-7. Johnson,
who wrote eloquently on capital punishment in 'The Rambler' for
April 20, 1751, No. 114, also refers to the ceaseless executions
in his 'London', 1738, ll. 238-43:--
Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die,
With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply.
Propose your schemes, ye senatorian band,
Whose ways and means support the sinking land:
Lest ropes be wanting in the tempting spring,
To rig another convoy for the king.
l. 326. -----
"Where the poor houseless shivering female lies".
Mitford compares Letter cxiv of 'The Citizen of the World',
1762, ii. 211:--'These 'poor shivering females' have once seen
happier days, and been flattered into beauty. They have been
prostituted to the gay luxurious villain, and are now turned out
to meet the severity of winter. Perhaps now lying at the doors
of their betrayers, they sue to wretches whose hearts are
insensible, or debauchees who may curse, but will not relieve
them.' The same passage occurs in 'The Bee', 1759, p. 126 ('A
l. 332. -----
"Near her betrayer's door", etc. Cf. the foregoing
l. 344. -----
"wild Altama", i.e. the Alatamaha, a river in Georgia,
North America. Goldsmith may have been familiar with this name
in connexion with his friend Oglethorpe's expedition of 1733.
l. 355. -----
"crouching tigers", a poetical licence, as there are no
tigers in the locality named. But Mr. J. H. Lobban calls
attention to a passage from 'Animated Nature' [1774, iii. 244],
in which Goldsmith seems to defend himself:--'There is an animal
of America, which is usually called the Red Tiger, but Mr.
Buffon calls it the Cougar, which, no doubt, is very different
from the tiger of the east. Some, however, have thought proper
to rank both together, and I will take leave to follow their
l. 371. -----
"The good old sire". Cf. 'Threnodia Augustalis', ll.
The good old sire, unconscious of decay,
The modest matron, clad in homespun gray
l. 378. -----
"a father's". 'Her father's' in the first edition.
l. 384. -----
"silent". 'Decent' in the first edition.
l. 418. -----
"On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side". 'Torno' =
Tornea, a river which falls into the Gulf of Bothnia; Pambamarca
is a mountain near Quito, South America. 'The author'--says
Bolton Corney--'bears in memory the operations of the French
philosophers in the arctic and equatorial regions, as described
in the celebrated narratives of M. Maupertuis and Don Antonio de
ll. 427-30. "That trade's proud empire", etc. These last four
lines are attributed to Johnson on Boswell's authority:--'Dr.
Johnson...favoured me by marking the lines which he furnished to
Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village', which are only the 'last four'.'
(Birkbeck Hill's 'Boswell', 1887, ii. 7.)
PROLOGUE OF LABERIUS.
This translation, or rather imitation, was first published at pp. 176-7
of 'An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe',
1759 (Chap. xii, 'Of the Stage'), where it is prefaced as
follows:--'MACROBIUS has preserved a prologue, spoken and written by the
poet [Decimus] Laberius, a Roman knight, whom Caesar forced upon the
stage, written with great elegance and spirit, which shews what opinion
the Romans in general entertained of the profession of an actor.' In the
second edition of 1774 the prologue was omitted. The original lines, one
of which Goldsmith quotes, are to found in the 'Saturnalia' of
Macrobius, lib. ii, cap. vii ('Opera', London, 1694). He seems to have
confined himself to imitating the first fifteen:--
Necessitas, cujus cursus transversi impetum
Voluerunt multi effugere, pauci potuerunt,
Quo me detrusit paene extremis sensibus?
Quem nulla ambitio, nulla umquam largitio,
Nullus timor, vis nulla, nulla auctoritas
Movere potuit in juventa de statu;
Ecce in senecta ut facile labefecit loco
Viri Excellentis mente clemente edita
Submissa placide blandiloquens oratio!
Etenim ipsi di negare cui nihil potuerunt,
Hominem me denegare quis posset pati?
Ergo bis tricenis annis actis sine tota
Eques Romanus Lare egressus meo
Domum revertar mimus. nimirum hoc die
Uno plus vixi mihi quam vivendum fuit.
Rollin gives a French translation of this prologue in his 'Traite des
Etudes'. It is quoted by Bolton Corney in his 'Poetical Works of Oliver
Goldsmith', 1845, pp. 203-4. In his Aldine edition of 1831, p. 114,
Mitford completed Goldsmith's version as follows:--
Too lavish still in good, or evil hour,
To show to man the empire of thy power,
If fortune, at thy wild impetuous sway,
The blossoms of my fame must drop away,
Then was the time the obedient plant to strain
When life was warm in every vigorous vein,
To mould young nature to thy plastic skill,
And bend my pliant boyhood to thy will.
So might I hope applauding crowds to hear,
Catch the quick smile, and HIS attentive ear.
But ah! for what has thou reserv'd my age?
Say, how can I expect the approving stage;
Fled is the bloom of youth -- the manly air --
The vigorous mind that spurn'd at toil and care;
Gone is the voice, whose clear and silver tone
The enraptur'd theatre would love to own.
As clasping ivy chokes the encumber'd tree,
So age with foul embrace has ruined me.
Thou, and the tomb, Laberius, art the same,
Empty within, what hast thou but a name?
Macrobius, it may be remembered, was the author, with a quotation from
whom Johnson, after a long silence, electrified the company upon his
first arrival at Pembroke College, thus giving (says Boswell) 'the first
impression of that more extensive reading in which he had indulged
himself' (Birkbeck Hill's 'Boswell', 1887, i. 59). If the study of
Macrobius is to be regarded as a test of 'more extensive reading' that
praise must therefore be accorded to Goldsmith, who cites him in his
ON A BEAUTIFUL YOUTH STRUCK BLIND WITH LIGHTNING.
This quatrain, the original of which does not appear to have been
traced, was first published in 'The Bee' for Saturday, the 6th of
October, 1759, p. 8. It is there succeeded by the following Latin
epigram, 'in the same spirit':--
LUMINE Acon dextro capta est Leonida sinistro
Et poterat forma vincere uterque Deos.
Parve puer lumen quod habes concede puellae
Sic tu caecus amor sic erit illa Venus.
There are several variations of this in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for
1745, pp. 104, 159, 213, 327, one of which is said to be 'By a monk of
Winchester,' with a reference to 'Cambden's 'Remains', p. 413.' None of
these corresponds exactly with Goldsmith's text; and the lady's name is
uniformly given as 'Leonilla.' A writer in the 'Quarterly Review', vol.
171, p. 296, prints the 'original' thus --
Lumine Acon dextro, capta est Leonilla sinistro,
Et potis est forma vincere uterque Deos.
Blande puer, lumen quod habes concede sorori;
Sic tu caecus Amor, sic erit illa Venus;
and says 'it was written by Girolamo Amalteo, and will be found in any
of the editions of the 'Trium Fratrum Amaltheorum Carmina', under the
title of 'De gemellis, fratre et sorore, luscis.' According to Byron on
Bowles ('Works', 1836, vi. p. 390), the persons referred to are the
Princess of Eboli, mistress of Philip II of Spain, and Maugiron, minion
of Henry III of France, who had each of them lost an eye. But for this
the reviewer above quoted had found no authority.
This little trifle, in which a French levity is wedded to the language
of Prior, was first printed in 'The Bee', for Saturday, the 13th of
October, 1759. Its original, which is as follows, is to be found where
Goldsmith found it, namely in Part iii of the 'Menagiana', (ed. 1729,
iii, 397), and not far from the ditty of 'le fameux la Galisse'. (See
'An Elegy on Mrs. Mary Blaize', 'infra', p. 198):--
ETRENE A IRIS.
Pour temoigner de ma flame,
Iris, du meilleur de mon ame
Je vous donne a ce nouvel an
Non pas dentelle ni ruban,
Non pas essence, ni pommade,
Quelques boites de marmelade,
Un manchon, des gans, un bouquet,
Non pas heures, ni chapelet.
Quoi donc? Attendez, je vous donne
O fille plus belle que bonne...
Je vous donne: Ah! le puis-je dire?
Oui, c'est trop souffrir le martyre,
Il est tems de s'emanciper,
Patience va m'echaper,
Fussiez-vous cent fois plus aimable,
Belle Iris, je vous donne...au Diable.
In Bolton Corney's edition of Goldsmith's 'Poetical Works', 1845, p. 77,
note, these lines are attributed to Bernard de la Monnoye (1641-1728),
who is said to have included them in a collection of 'Etrennes en vers',
published in 1715.
l. 20. -----
"I'll give thee". See an anecdote 'a propos' of this
anticlimax in Trevelyan's 'Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay',
ed. 1889, p. 600:--'There was much laughing about Mrs. Beecher
Stowe [then (16th March, 1853) expected in England], and what we
were to give her. I referred the ladies to Goldsmith's poems for
what I should give. Nobody but Hannah understood me; but some of
them have since been thumbing Goldsmith to make out the riddle.'
THE LOGICIANS REFUTED.
These lines, which have often, and even of late years, been included
among Swift's works, were first printed as Goldsmith's by T. Evans at
vol. i. pp. 115-17 of 'The Poetical and Dramatic Works of Oliver
Goldsmith, M. B., 1780. They originally appeared in 'The Busy Body' for
Thursday, October the 18th, 1759 (No. v), having this notification above
the title: 'The following Poem written by Dr. SWIFT, is communicated to
the Public by the BUSY BODY, to whom it was presented by a Nobleman of
distinguished Learning and Taste.' In No. ii they had already been
advertised as forthcoming. The sub-title, 'In imitation of Dean Swift,'
seems to have been added by Evans. The text here followed is that of the
l. 5. -----
"Wise Aristotle and Smiglecius". Cf. 'The Life of
Parnell', 1770, p. 3:--'His imagination might have been too warm
to relish the cold logic of Burgersdicius, or the dreary
subtleties of 'Smiglesius'; but it is certain that as a
classical scholar, few could equal him.' Martin Smiglesius or
Smigletius, a Polish Jesuit, theologian and logician, who died
in 1618, appears to have been a special 'bete noire' to
Goldsmith; and the reference to him here would support the
ascription of the poem to Goldsmith's pen, were it not that
Swift seems also to have cherished a like antipathy:--'He told
me that he had made many efforts, upon his entering the College
[i.e. Trinity College, Dublin], to read some of the old
treatises on logic writ by 'Smeglesius', Keckermannus,
Burgersdicius, etc., and that he never had patience to go
through three pages of any of them, he was so disgusted at the
stupidity of the work.' (Sheridan's 'Life of Swift', 2nd ed.,
1787, p. 4.)
l. 16. -----
"Than reason-boasting mortal's pride". So in 'The Busy
Body'. Some editors--Mitford, for example--print the line:--
Than reason,--boasting mortals' pride.
l. 18. -----
"Deus est anima brutorum". Cf. Addison in 'Spectator',
No. 121 (July 19, 1711): 'A modern Philosopher, quoted by
Monsieur 'Bale' in his Learned Dissertation on the Souls of
Brutes delivers the same Opinion [i.e.--That Instinct is the
immediate direction of Providence], tho' in a bolder form of
words where he says 'Deus est Anima Brutorum', God himself is
the Soul of Brutes.' There is much in 'Monsieur Bayle' on this
theme. Probably Addison had in mind the following passage of the
'Dict. Hist. et Critique' (3rd ed., 1720, 2481b.) which Bayle
cites from M. Bernard:--'Il me semble d'avoir lu quelque part
cette These, 'Deus est anima brutorum': l'expression est un peu
dure; mais elle peut recevoir un fort bon sens.'
l. 32. -----
"B-b"=Bob, i.e. Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister,
for whom many venal 'quills were drawn' 'circa' 1715-42. Cf.
Pope's 'Epilogue to the Satires', 1738, Dialogue i, ll. 27-32:--
Go see Sir ROBERT--
P. See Sir ROBERT!--hum--
And never laugh--for all my life to come?
Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
Of Social Pleasure, ill-exchang'd for Pow'r;
Seen him, uncumber'd with the Venal tribe,
Smile without Art, and win without a Bribe.
l. 46. -----
"A courtier any ape surpasses". Cf. Gay's 'Fables,
passim'. Indeed there is more of Gay than Swift in this and the
lines that follow. Gay's life was wasted in fruitless
expectations of court patronage, and his disappointment often
betrays itself in his writings.
l. 56. -----
"And footmen, lords and dukes can act". Cf. 'Gil Blas',
1715-35, liv. iii, chap. iv:--'Il falloit voir comme nous nous
portions des santes a tous moments, en nous donnant les uns aux
autres les surnoms de nos maitres. Le valet de don Antonio
appeloit Gamboa celui de don Fernand, et le valet de don Fernand
appeloit Centelles celui de don Antonio. Ils me nommoient de
meme Silva; et nous nous enivrions peu a peu sous ces noms
empruntes, tout aussi bien que les seigneurs qui les portoient
veritablement.' But Steele had already touched this subject in
'Spectator', No. 88, for June 11, 1711, 'On the Misbehaviour of
Servants,' a paper supposed to have afforded the hint for
Townley's farce of 'High Life below Stairs', which, about a
fortnight after 'The Logicians Refuted' appeared, was played for
the first time at Drury Lane, not much to the gratification of
the gentlemen's gentlemen in the upper gallery. Goldsmith
himself wrote 'A Word or two on the late Farce, called 'High
Life below Stairs',' in 'The Bee' for November 3, 1759, pp.
This little piece first appears in 'The Bee' for October 20,
1759 (No. iii). It is there called 'A Sonnet,' a title which is
only accurate in so far as it is 'a little song.' Bolton Corney
affirms that it is imitated from the French of Saint-Pavin (i.e.
Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin, d. 1670), whose works were edited
in 1759, the year in which Goldsmith published the collection of
essays and verses in which it is to be found. The text here
followed is that of the 'new edition' of 'The Bee', published by
W. Lane, Leadenhall Street, no date, p. 94. Neither by its
motive nor its literary merits--it should be added--did the
original call urgently for translation; and the poem is here
included solely because, being Goldsmith's, it cannot be omitted
from his complete works.
l. 5. -----
This and the following line in the first version run:--
Yet, why this killing soft dejection?
Why dim thy beauty with a tear?
STANZAS ON THE TAKING OF QUEBEC.
Quebec was taken on the 13th September, 1759. Wolfe was wounded pretty
early in the action, while leading the advance of the Louisbourg
grenadiers. 'A shot shattered his wrist. He wrapped his handkerchief
about it and kept on. Another shot struck him, and he still advanced,
when a third lodged in his breast. He staggered, and sat on the ground.
Lieutenant Brown, of the grenadiers, one Henderson, a volunteer in the
same company, and a private soldier, aided by an officer of artillery
who ran to join them, carried him in their arms to the rear. He begged
them to lay him down. They did so, and asked if he would have a surgeon.
"There's no need," he answered; "it's all over with me." A moment after,
one of them cried out, "They run; see how they run!" "Who run?" Wolfe
demanded, like a man roused from sleep. "The enemy, sir. They give way
everywhere!" "Go, one of you, to Colonel Burton," returned the dying
man; "tell him to march Webb's regiment down to Charles River, to cut
off their retreat from the bridge." Then, turning on his side, he
murmured, "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace!" and in a few
moments his gallant soul had fled.' (Parkman's 'Montcalm and Wolfe',
1885, ii. 296-7.) In his 'History of England in a Series of Letters',
1764, ii. 241, Goldsmith says of this event:--'Perhaps the loss of such
a man was greater to the nation than the conquering of all Canada was
advantageous; but it is the misfortune of humanity, that we can never
know true greatness till the moment when we are going to lose it*.' The
present stanzas were first published in 'The Busy Body' (No. vii) for
Tuesday, the 22nd October, 1759, a week after the news of Wolfe's death
had reached this country (Tuesday the 16th). According to Prior ('Life',
1837, i. 6), Goldsmith claimed to be related to Wolfe by the father's
side, the maiden name of the General's mother being Henrietta Goldsmith.
It may be noted that Benjamin West's popular rendering of Wolfe's death
(1771)--a rendering which Nelson never passed in a print shop without
being stopped by it--was said to be based upon the descriptions of an
eye-witness. It was engraved by Woollett and Ryland in 1776. A key to
the names of those appearing in the picture was published in the 'Army
and Navy Gazette' of January 20, 1893.
*[footnote] He repeats this sentiment, in different words, in the later
'History of England' of 1771, iv. 400.
AN ELEGY ON MRS. MARY BLAIZE.
The publication in February, 1751, of Gray's 'Elegy Wrote in a Country
Church Yard' had set a fashion in poetry which long continued.
Goldsmith, who considered that work 'a very fine poem, but overloaded
with epithet' ('Beauties of English Poesy', 1767, i. 53), and once
proposed to amend it 'by leaving out an idle word in every line' [!]
(Cradock's 'Memoirs', 1826, i. 230), resented these endless imitations,
and his antipathy to them frequently reveals itself. Only a few months
before the appearance of Mrs. Blaize in 'The Bee' for October 27, 1759,
he had written in the 'Critical Review', vii. 263, when noticing
Langhorne's 'Death of Adonis', as follows:--'It is not thus that many of
our moderns have composed what they call elegies; they seem scarcely to
have known its real character. If an hero or a poet happens to die with
us, the whole band of elegiac poets raise the dismal chorus, adorn his
herse with all the paltry escutcheons of flattery, rise into bombast,
paint him at the head of his thundering legions, or reining Pegasus in
his most rapid career; they are sure to strew cypress enough upon the
bier, dress up all the muses in mourning, and look themselves every whit
as dismal and sorrowful as an undertaker's shop.' He returned to the
subject in a 'Chinese Letter' of March 4, 1761, in the 'Public Ledger'
(afterwards Letter ciii of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 162-5),
which contains the lines 'On the Death of the Right Honourable ***; and
again, in 'The Vicar of Wakefield', 1766, i. 174, 'a propos' of the
'Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog', he makes Dr. Primrose say, 'I have
wept so much at all sorts of elegies of late, that without an enlivening
glass I am sure this will overcome me.'
The model for 'An Elegy on Mrs. Mary Blaize' is to be found in the old
French popular song of Monsieur de la Palisse or Palice, about fifty
verses of which are printed in Larousse's 'Grand Dictionnaire Universel
du XIXme Siecle', x. p. 179. It is there stated to have originated in
some dozen stanzas suggested to la Monnoye ('v. supra', p. 193) by the
extreme artlessness of a military quatrain dating from the battle of
Pavia, and the death upon that occasion of the famous French captain,
Jacques de Chabannes, seigneur de la Palice:--
Monsieur d'La Palice est mort,
Mort devant Pavie;
Un quart d'heure avant sa mort,
'Il etait encore en vie'.
The remaining verses, i.e. in addition to those of la Monnoye, are the
contributions of successive generations. Goldsmith probably had in mind
the version in Part iii of the 'Menagiana', (ed. 1729, iii, 384-391)
where apparently by a typographical error, the hero is called 'le fameux
la Galisse, homme imaginaire.' The verses he imitated most closely are
reproduced below. It may be added that this poem supplied one of its
last inspirations to the pencil of Randolph Caldecott, who published it
as a picture-book in October, 1885. (See also 'An Elegy on the Death of
a Mad Dog', p. 212.)
l. 8. -----
"Who left a pledge behind". Caldecott cleverly converted
this line into the keynote of the poem, by making the heroine a
l. 20. -----
"When she has walk'd before". Cf. the French:--
On dit que dans ses amours
Il fut caresse des belles,
Qui le suivirent toujours,
'Tant qu'il marcha devant elles'.
l. 24. -----
"Her last disorder mortal". Cf. the French:--
Il fut par un triste sort
Blesse d'une main cruelle.
On croit, puis qu'il en est mort,
'Que la plaie etoit mortelle'.
l. 26. -----
"Kent Street", Southwark, 'chiefly inhabited,' said
Strype, 'by Broom Men and Mumpers'; and Evelyn tells us ('Diary'
5th December, 1683) that he assisted at the marriage, to her
fifth husband, of a Mrs. Castle, who was 'the daughter of one
Burton, a broom-man...in Kent Street' who had become not only
rich, but Sheriff of Surrey. It was a poor neighbourhood
corresponding to the present 'old Kent-road, from Kent to
Southwark and old London Bridge' (Cunningham's London*).
Goldsmith himself refers to it in 'The Bee' for October 20,
1759, being the number immediately preceding that in which
'Madam Blaize' first appeared:--'You then, O ye beggars of my
acquaintance, whether in rags or lace; whether in 'Kent-street'
or the Mall; whether at the Smyrna or St. Giles's, might I
advise as a friend, never seem in want of the favour which you
solicit' (p. 72). Three years earlier he had practised as 'a
physician, in a humble way' in Bankside, Southwark, and was
probably well acquainted with the humours of Kent Street.
*[footnote] In contemporary maps Kent (now Tabard) Street is
shown extending between the present New Kent Road and Blackman
DESCRIPTION OF AN AUTHOR'S BEDCHAMBER.
In a letter written to the Rev. Henry Goldsmith in 1759 ('Percy Memoir',
1801, pp. 53-9), Goldsmith thus refers to the first form of these
verses:--'Your last letter, I repeat it, was too short; you should have
given me your opinion of the design of the heroicomical poem which I
sent you: you remember I intended to introduce the hero of the poem, as
lying in a paltry alehouse. You may take the following specimen of the
manner, which I flatter myself is quite original. The room in which he
lies, may be described somewhat this way:--
The window, patch'd with paper, lent a ray,
That feebly shew'd the state in which he lay.
The sanded floor, that grits beneath the tread:
The humid wall with paltry pictures spread;
The game of goose was there expos'd to view
And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew:
The seasons, fram'd with listing, found a place,
And Prussia's monarch shew'd his lamp-black face
The morn was cold; he views with keen desire,
A rusty grate unconscious of a fire.
An unpaid reck'ning on the frieze was scor'd,
And five crack'd tea-cups dress'd the chimney board.
And now imagine after his soliloquy, the landlord to make his
appearance, in order to dun him for the reckoning:--
Not with that face, so servile and so gay,
That welcomes every stranger that can pay,
With sulky eye he smoak'd the patient man,
Then pull'd his breeches tight, and thus began, etc.
All this is taken, you see, from nature. It is a good remark of
Montaign[e]'s, that the wisest men often have friends, with whom they do
not care how much they play the fool. Take my present follies as
instances of regard. Poetry is a much easier, and more agreeable species
of composition than prose, and could a man live by it, it were no
unpleasant employment to be a poet.'
In Letter xxix of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 119-22, which
first appeared in 'The Public Ledger' for May 2, 1760, they have a
different setting. They are read at a club of authors by a 'poet, in
shabby finery,' who asserts that he has composed them the day before.
After some preliminary difficulties, arising from the fact that the laws
of the club do not permit any author to inflict his own works upon the
assembly without a money payment, he introduces them as follows:--
'Gentlemen, says he, the present piece is not one of your common epic
poems, which come from the press like paper kites in summer; there are
none of your Turnuses or Dido's in it; it is an heroical description of
nature. I only beg you'll endeavour to make your souls unison* with
mine, and hear with the same enthusiasm with which I have written. The
poem begins with the description of an author's bedchamber: the picture
was sketched in my own apartment; for you must know, gentlemen, that I
am myself the heroe. Then putting himself into the attitude of an
orator, with all the emphasis of voice and action, he proceeded.
Where the Red Lion, etc.'
The verses then follow as they are printed in this volume; but
he is unable to induce his audience to submit to a further sample. In a
slightly different form, some of them were afterwards worked into 'The
Deserted Village', 1770. (See ll. 227-36.)
*[footnote] i.e. accord, conform.
l. 3. -----
"Where Calvert's butt, and Parsons' black champagne". The
Calverts and Humphrey Parsons were noted brewers of 'entire butt
beer' or porter, also known familiarly as 'British Burgundy' and
'black Champagne.' Calvert's 'Best Butt Beer' figures on the
sign in Hogarth's 'Beer Street', 1751.
l. 10. -----
"The humid wall with paltry pictures spread". Bewick gives the
names of some of these popular, if paltry, decorations:--'In
cottages everywhere were to be seen the "Sailor's Farewell" and
his "Happy Return," "Youthful Sports," and the "Feats of
Manhood," "The Bold Archers Shooting at a Mark," "The Four
Seasons," etc.' ('Memoir', 'Memorial Edition,' 1887, p. 263.)
l. 11. -----
"The royal game of goose was there in view". (See note, p. 188,
l. 12. -----
"And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew". (See note, p.
187, l. 232.)
l. 13. -----
"The Seasons, fram'd with listing". See note to l. 10 above, as
to 'The Seasons.' Listing, ribbon, braid, or tape is still used
as a primitive 'encadrement'. In a letter dated August 15, 1758,
to his cousin, Mrs. Lawder (Jane Contarine), Goldsmith again
refers to this device. Speaking of some 'maxims of frugality'
with which he intends to adorn his room, he adds--'my landlady's
daughter shall frame them with the parings of my black
waistcoat.' (Prior, 'Life', 1837, i. 271.)
l. 14. -----
"And brave Prince William". William Augustus, Duke of
Cumberland, 1721-65. The 'lamp-black face' would seem to imply
that the portrait was a silhouette. In the letter quoted on p.
200 it is 'Prussia's monarch' (i.e. Frederick the Great).
l. 17. -----
"With beer and milk arrears". See the lines relative to the
landlord in Goldsmith's above-quoted letter to his brother. In
another letter of August 14, 1758, to Robert Bryanton, he
describes himself as 'in a garret writing for bread, and
expecting to be dunned for a milk score.' Hogarth's 'Distrest
Poet', 1736, it will be remembered, has already realized this
l. 20. -----
"A cap by night--a stocking all the day". 'With this last
line,' says 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, i. 121, 'he [the
author] seemed so much elated, that he was unable to proceed:
"There gentlemen, cries he, there is a description for you;
Rab[e]lais's bed-chamber is but a fool to it:
'A cap by night--a stocking all the day!'
There is sound and sense, and truth, and nature in the trifling
compass of ten little syllables."' (Letter xxix.) Cf. also 'The
Deserted Village', l. 230:--
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day.
If Goldsmith's lines did not belong to 1759, one might suppose
he had in mind the later 'Pauvre Diable' of his favourite
Voltaire. (See also APPENDIX B.)
ON SEEING MRS. ** PERFORM IN THE CHARACTER OF ****.
These verses, intended for a specimen of the newspaper Muse, are
from Letter lxxxii of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 87,
first printed in 'The Public Ledger', October 21, 1760.
ON THE DEATH OF THE RIGHT HON. ***
From Letter ciii of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 164,
first printed in 'The Public Ledger', March 4, 1761. The verses
are given as a 'specimen of a poem on the decease of a great
man.' Goldsmith had already used the trick of the final line of
the quatrain in 'An Elegy on Mrs. Mary Blaize', ante, p. 198.
From Letter cx of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 193,
first printed in 'The Public Ledger', April 14, 1761. It had,
however, already been printed in the 'Ledger', ten days before.
Goldsmith's animosity to Churchill (cf. note to l. 41 of the
dedication to 'The Traveller') was notorious; but this is one of
his doubtful pieces.
l. 3. -----
"virtue". 'Charity' ('Author's note').
l. 4. -----
"bounty". 'Settled at One Shilling--the Price of the Poem'
TO G. C. AND R. L.
From the same letter as the preceding. George Colman and Robert
Lloyd of the 'St. James's Magazine' were supposed to have helped
Churchill in 'The Rosciad', the 'it' of the epigram.
TRANSLATION OF A SOUTH AMERICAN ODE.
From Letter cxiii of 'The Citizen of the World', 1762, ii. 209,
first printed in 'The Public Ledger', May 13, 1761.
THE DOUBLE TRANSFORMATION.
'The Double Transformation' first appeared in 'Essays: By Mr.
Goldsmith", 1765, where it figures as Essay xxvi, occupying pp.
229-33. It was revised for the second edition of 1766, becoming
Essay xxviii, pp. 241-45. This is the text here followed. The
poem is an obvious imitation of what its author calls ('Letters
from a Nobleman to his Son', 1764, ii. 140) that 'French elegant
easy manner of telling a story,' which Prior had caught from La
Fontaine. But the inherent simplicity of Goldsmith's style is
curiously evidenced by the absence of those illustrations and
ingenious allusions which are Prior's chief characteristic. And
although Goldsmith included 'The Ladle' and 'Hans Carvel' in his
'Beauties of English Poesy', 1767, he refrained wisely from
copying the licence of his model.
l. 2. -----
"Jack Book-worm led a college life".
The version of 1765 reads 'liv'd' for 'led.'
l. 6. -----
"And freshmen wonder'd as he spoke".
The earlier version adds here--
Without politeness aim'd at breeding,
And laugh'd at pedantry and reading.
l. 18. -----
"Her presence banish'd all his peace".
Here in the first version the paragraph closes,
and a fresh one is commenced as follows:--
Our alter'd Parson now began
To be a perfect ladies' man;
Made sonnets, lisp'd his sermons o'er,
And told the tales he told before,
Of bailiffs pump'd, and proctors bit,
At college how he shew'd his wit;
And, as the fair one still approv'd,
He fell in love--or thought he lov'd.
So with decorum, etc.
The fifth line was probably a reminiscence of the college riot
in which Goldsmith was involved in May, 1747, and for his part
in which he was publicly admonished. (See 'Introduction', p. xi,
l. 27. -----
"usage". This word, perhaps by a printer's error, is
'visage' in the first version
l. 39. -----
"Skill'd in no other arts was she". Cf. Prior:--
For in all Visits who but She,
To Argue, or to Repartee.
l. 46. -----
"Five greasy nightcaps wrapp'd her head". Cf.
'Spectator', No. 494--'At length the Head of the
Colledge came out to him, from an inner Room, with half
a Dozen Night-Caps upon his Head.' See also Goldsmith's
essay on the Coronation ('Essays', 1766, p. 238), where
Mr. Grogan speaks of his wife as habitually 'mobbed up
in flannel night caps, and trembling at a breath of
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