Page images



[ocr errors]





tions of novelists and playwrights. What is beyond dispute is the healthy atmosphere, the skilful setting, the lasting freshness and fidelity to human nature of the ent persons of the drama. Not content with the finished portraits of the Hardcastles (a Vicar and Mrs. Primrose promoted to the squirearchy),-not content with the inno comparable and unapproachable Tony, the author has managed to make attractive what is too often insipid, his heroines and their lovers. Miss Hardcastle and Miss Neville are not only charming young women, but charming characters, while Marlow and Hastings are much more than stage young men. And let it be remembered -it cannot be too often remembered that in returning to those Farquhars and Vanbrughs "of the last age,' who differed so widely from the Kellys and Cumberlands of his Goldsmith has brought back no taint of their own, baser part. Depending solely for its avowed intention to "make an audience merry," upon the simple development of its humorous incident, his play (wonderful to relate!) attains its end without resorting to the aid of equivocal intrigue. Indeed, there is but one married woman in the piece, and she traverses it without a stain upon her character.



She Stoops to Conquer is Goldsmith's last dramatic work, for the trifling sketch of The Grumbler had never he more than a grateful purpose. When, only a year later, the little funeral procession from 2, Brick Court laid him in his unknown grave in the Temple burying-ground, the new comedy of which he had written so hopefully to Garrick was still non-existent. Would it have been better than its last fortunate predecessor ?-would those early reserves of memory and experience have still proved inexhaustible? The question cannot be answered. Through debt, and drudgery, and depression, the writer's genius had still advanced, and these might yet have proved powerless to check his progress. But at least it was given to him to end upon his best, and not to outlive it. For, in that critical sense which estimates the value of a work by its excellence at all points, it can scarcely be contested that She Stoops to Conquer is his

best production. In spite of their beauty and humanity, the lasting quality of The Traveller and The Deserted Village is seriously prejudiced by his half-way attitude between the poetry of convention and the poetry of nature-between the gradus epithet of Pope and the direct vocabulary of Wordsworth. With The Vicar of Wakefield, again, immortal though it be, it is less his art that holds us, than his charm, his humour and his tenderness which tempt us to forget his inconsistency and his errors of haste. In She Stoops to Conquer, neither defect of art nor defect of nature forbids us to give unqualified admiration to a work which lapse of time has shown to be still unrivalled of its kind.


The following is a list of Oliver Goldsmith's works (17281774) :

Memoirs of a Protestant condemned to the Galleys of France for his Religion (translation), 2 vols., 1758; Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe, 1759; The Bee, being Essays on the Most Interesting Subjects (eight numbers of a weekly periodical), 1759; History of Mecklenburgh, 1762; The Mystery Revealed, containing a Series of Transactions and Authentic Testimonials respecting the supposed Cock-Lane Ghost, 1762; The Citizen of the World, or Letters from a Chinese Philosopher residing in London to his Friends in the East (from the Public Ledger, 1760, 1761), 2 vols., 1762; Life of Richard Nash, of Bath, Esquire, 1762; A History of England in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to his Son, 2 vols., 1764; The Traveller, 1765; Essays, 1765; The Vicar of Wakefield, a tale supposed to be written by himself, 2 vols., 1766; The Good-Natured Man, a Comedy, 1768; The Roman History, from the foundation of the City of Rome to the destruction of the Western Empire, 2 vols., 1769; Abridgment by the Author, 1772; The Deserted Village, 1770; The Life of Thomas Parnell, compiled from original papers and memoirs, 1770; Life of Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, 1770; The History of England, from the Earliest Times to the Death of George II., 4 vols., 1771; Abridged Edition, 1774 ; Threnodia Augustalis, sacred to the memory of Her Royal Highness the Princess Dowager of Wales, 1772; She Stoops to Conquer, or the Mistakes of a Night, 1773; Retaliation, a Poem, including Epitaphs on the most distinguished Wits of this Metropolis, 1774 (five editions were published this year; the fifth edition contains the postscript and epitaph on Caleb Whitefoord); The Grecian History, from the Earliest State to the Death of Alexander the










Great, 2 vols., 1774; An History of the Earth and Animated Nature, 8 vols., 1774; The Haunch of Venison, a Poetical Epistle to Lord Clare, 1776; another edition, with additions and corrections, appeared this same year; A Survey of Experimental Philosophy considered in its Present State of Improvement, 2 vols., 1776; The Captivity, an Oratorio, 1836 (first printed in the Trade edition of Goldsmith's Works, 1820. See Anderson's Bibl.).

Goldsmith contributed to the Monthly Review, Critical Review, Literary Magazine, Busy Body, Public Ledger, British Magazine, Lady's Magazine, Westminster Magazine, and Universal Magazine; he edited Poems for Young Ladies, 1766; Beauties of English Poesy, 1767; to him is attributed The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, published by Newbery, 3rd ed., 1766; and also A Pretty Book of Pictures for Little Masters and Misses, etc., 1767; and his translations include Formey's Concise History of Philosophy, 1766; Scarron's Comic Romance, 1780. An abridged edition of Plutarch's Lives was undertaken by him in collaboration with Joseph Collyer, 1762; The Grumbler, an adaptation of Brueys and Palaprat's Le Grondeur, was performed once at Covent Garden in 1773, but not 28 printed by the author.







The miscellaneous works of Goldsmith (containing all his Essays and Poems) were published in 1775, 1792, and in 1801 with the Percy Memoir; Poems and Plays, 1777; Poetical and Dramatic Works, 1780.

Among later editions are those by Prior, 4 vols., 1837; Cunningham, 4 vols., 1854; J. F. Waller, 1864, etc.; J. W. M. Gibbs, 1884-6; the Globe Edition, 1869; Bohn's Standard Library has also included Goldsmith's miscellaneous works. Many smaller collections have been published.

The complete Poetical works were edited by Austin Dobson th (Oxford Edition), 1906.







The Vicar of Wakefield has appeared in innumerable editions, has been frequently illustrated, and translated into nearly every European language.

A bibliography of Goldsmith's works is appended to the Life by Austin Dobson.

Life: The life known as the " Percy Memoir" (see above), 1801, and later editions; by James Prior, 1837; John Forster, Life and Adventures of Oliver Goldsmith, 1848, 1854, 1855, 1903; Washington Irving (founded on two previous biographies), with selections, 1844, 1849, 1850; W. Black (English Men of Letters), 1878; Austin Dobson (Great Writers), 1888, 1899; Macaulay (Encyclopædia Britannica), ed. H. B. Cotterill, 1904, and published in Blackie's English Classics, 1901; Oliver Goldsmith (Cameo Classics, No. 4), 1905.

[ocr errors][merged small]





« PreviousContinue »