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eighteenth century, many of which latter were among his
books at his death. These he had carefully studied,
probably during his continental wanderings, and from
them he derives, like Prior, much of his grace and
metrical buoyancy. The Elegy on the Death of a Mad
Dog, and Madame Blaize, are both more or less con-
structed on the old French popular song of the hero of
Pavia, Jacques de Chabannes, Seigneur de la Palice
(sometimes Galisse), with, in the case of the former, a
tag from an epigram by Voltaire, the original of which is
in the Greek Anthology, though Voltaire simply "con-
veyed" his version from an anonymous French prede-
cessor. Similarly the lively stanzas To Iris, in Bow
Street, the lines to Myra, the quatrain called A South
American Ode, and that On a Beautiful Youth struck
blind with Lightning, are all confessed or unconfessed
translations. It is possible that if Goldsmith had lived
to collect his own works, he would have announced the
source of his inspiration in these instances as well as in
one or two other cases-the epitaph on Ned Purdon, for
example,-where it has been reserved to his editors to
discover his obligations. On the other hand, he might
have contended, with perfect justice, that whatever the
source of his ideas, he had made them his own when he
got them; and certainly in lilt and lightness, the lines
To Iris are infinitely superior to those of La Monnoye,
on which they are based. But even a fervent admirer
may admit that, dwelling as he did in this very vitreous
palace of Gallic adaptation, one does not expect to find
him throwing stones at Prior for borrowing from the
French, or commenting solemnly in the life of Parnell
upon the heinousness of plagiarism. "It was the fashion,"
he says,
"with the wits of the last age, to conceal the
places from whence they took their hints or their subjects.
A trifling acknowledgment would have made that lawful
prize, which may now be considered as plunder." He
might judiciously have added to this latter sentence the
quotation which he struck out of the second issue of the
Polite Learning,-"Haud inexpertus loquor."

Of his longer pieces, The Traveller was apparently

suggested to him by Addison's Letter from Italy to Lord Halifax, a poem to which, in his preliminary notes to the Beauties of English Poesy, he gives significant praise. "There is in it," he says, "a strain of political thinking that was, at that time, new in our poetry." He obviously intended that The Traveller should be admired for the same reason; and both in that poem and its successor, The Deserted Village, he lays stress upon the political import of his work. The one, we are told, is to illustrate the position that the happiness of the subject is independent of the goodness of the Sovereign; the other, to deplore the increase of luxury and the miseries of depopulation. But, as a crowd of commentators have pointed out, it is hazardous for a poet to meddle with "political thinking," however much, under George the Second, it may have been needful to proclaim a serious purpose. If Goldsmith had depended solely upon the professedly didactic part of his attempt, his work would be as dead as Freedom, or Sympathy, or any other of Dodsley's forgotten quartos. Fortunately he did more than this. Sensibly or insensibly, he suffused his work with that philanthropy which is "not learned by the royal road of tracts, and platform speeches, and monthly magazines," but by personal commerce with poverty and sorrow; and he made his appeal to that clinging love of country, of old association, of "home-bred happiness," of innocent pleasure, which, with Englishmen, is never made in vain. Employing the couplet of Pope and Johnson, he has added to his measure a suavity that belonged to neither; but the beauty of his humanity and the tender melancholy of his wistful retrospect hold us more strongly and securely than the studious finish of his style.

"Vingt fois sur le mêtier remettez votre ouvrage❞—said the arch-critic whose name, according to Keats, the school of Pope displayed upon their "decrepit standard." Even in The Traveller and The Deserted Village, there are indications of over-labour; but in a poem which comes between them-the once famous Edwin and Angelina— Goldsmith certainly carried out Boileau's maxim to the full. The first privately-printed version differs consider

ably from that in the first edition of the Vicar; this again is altered in the fourth; and there are other variations in the piece as printed in the Poems for Young Ladies. "As to my 'Hermit "," said the poet complacently, "that poem, Cradock, cannot be amended," and undoubtedly it has been skilfully wrought. But it is impossible to look upon it now with the unpurged eyes of those upon whom the Reliques of Ancient Poetry had but recently dawned, still less to endorse the verdict of Sir John Hawkins that “it is one of the finest poems of the lyric kind that our language has to boast of." Its over-soft prettiness is too much that of the chromo-lithograph or the Parian bust (the porcelain, not the marble), and its "beautiful simplicity" is in parts perilously close upon that inanity which Johnson, whose sturdy good sense not even friendship could silence, declared to be the characteristic of much of Percy's collection. It is instructive as a study of poetical progress to contrast it with a ballad of our own day in the same measure-the Talking Oak of Tennyson.

The remaining poems of Goldsmith, excluding the Captivity, and the admittedly occasional Threnodia Augustalis, are not open to the charge of fictitious simplicity, or of that hyper-elaboration, which, in the words of the poet just mentioned, makes for the "ripe and rotten.' The gallery of kit-cats in Retaliation, and the delightful bonhomie of The Haunch of Venison need no commendation. In kindly humour and not unkindly satire Goldsmith was at his best, and the imperishable portraits of Burke and Garrick and Reynolds, and the inimitable dinner at which Lord Clare's pasty was not, are as well known as any of the stock passages of The Deserted Village or The Traveller, though they have never been babbled "in extremis vicis" by successive generations of schoolboys. It is usually said, probably with truth, that in these poems and the delightful Letter to Mrs. Bunbury, Goldsmith's metre was suggested by the cantering anapasts of the New Bath Guide, and it is to be observed that "Little Comedy's "letter of invitation is to the same popular tune. But in preparing this

edition, some enquiries as to the song of Ally Croaker mentioned in She Stoops to Conquer, elicited the fact that a line of that once popular lyric—

"Too dull for a wit, and too grave for a joker "

has a kind of echo in the

"Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit"

of Burke's portrait in Retaliation. What is still more remarkable is that Gray's Sketch of his own Character, the resemblance of which to Goldsmith has been pointed out by his editors, begins

"Too poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune."

Whether Goldsmith was thinking of Anstey or Ally Croaker, it is at least worthy of passing notice that an Irish song of no particular literary merit should have succeeded in haunting the two foremost poets of their day.


Poetry brought Goldsmith fame, but money only indirectly. Those Saturnian days of the subscriptionedition, when Pope and Gay and Prior counted their gains by thousands, were over and gone. He had arrived, it has been well said, too late for the Patron, and too early for the Public. Of his lighter pieces the best were posthumous; the rest were either paid for at hack prices or not at all. For The Deserted Village Griffin gave him a hundred guineas, a sum so unexampled as to have prompted the pleasant legend that he returned it. For The Traveller the only payment that can be definitely traced is £21. "I cannot afford to court the draggletail Muses," he said laughingly to Lord Lisburn, "they would let me starve; but by my other labours I can make shift to eat, and drink, and have good clothes." It was in his "other labours" that his poems helped him. The booksellers who would not or could not remunerate him adequately for delayed production and minute revision, were willing enough to secure the sanction of

his naine for humbler journey-work. If he was ill-paid for The Traveller, he was not ill-paid for the Beauties of English Poesy or the History of Animated Nature.

Yet, notwithstanding his ready pen, and his skill as a compiler, his life was a métier de forçat. "While you are nibbling about elegant phrases, I am obliged to write half a volume," he told his friend Cradock; and it was but natural that he should desire to escape into walks where he might accomplish something "for his own hand," by which, at the same time, he might exist. Fiction he had already essayed. Nearly two years before The Traveller appeared, he had written a story about the length of Joseph Andrews, for which he had received little more than a third of the sum paid by Andrew Millar to Fielding for his burlesque of Richardson's Pamela. But obscure circumstances delayed the publication of the Vicar of Wakefield for four years, and when at last it was issued, its first burst of success-a success, as far as can be ascertained, productive of no further profit to its author-was followed by a long period during which the sales were languid and uncertain. There remained the stage, with its two-fold allurement of fame and fortune, both payable at sight, added to which it was. always possible that a popular play, in those days when plays were bought to read, might find a brisk market in book form. The prospect was a tempting one, and it is scarcely surprising that Goldsmith, weary of the "dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood," and conscious of better things within him, should engage in that most tantalizing of all enterprises, the pursuit of dramatic


For acting and actors he had always shown a decided partiality.1 Vague stories, based, in all probability, upon the references to strolling players in his writings, hinted

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1 This is not inconsistent with the splenetic utterances in the letters to Daniel Hodson, first made public in the "Great Writers' Life of Goldsmith, where he speaks of the stage as an abominable resource which neither became a man of honour, nor a man of sense. Those letters were written when the production of The Good-Natur'd Man had supplied him with abundant practical evidence of the vexations and difficulties of theatrical ambition.


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