« FöregåendeFortsätt »
poraries, to point to his superior, or very easily to discover bis equal. The character of his genius has been rather depreciatingly drawn by Boswell, the biographer of Johnson. But Boswell was inadequate to the estimation of such a mind as that of Goldsmith; and, solicitous to make every knee bow to the vast golden idol which he had erected, the idolater of Johnson would not admit of any competitor with the object of his peculiar worship. In the writings of Goldsmith we cannot detect that alleged shallowness of mind which obstructed the penetration of the deep root, and refused nourishment to the lofty trunk. To every subject, with which he engages, we see him bringing all that is requisite for its illustration; and everywhere, with a display of judgment, taste, and imagination, disclosing knowledge which must have been collected from extensive reading, and which must have been concocted by a vigorous understanding. He preferred, indeed, the sweet, the tender, and the pathetic; but we cannot pronounce that he was incapable of reaching the sublime. He did not, it is true, excel in conversation, and his ambition to shine in the social circle was generally unsuccessful; for he talked with careless unpremeditation; his ideas seemed occasionally to be confused, and his utterance was hurried and ungraceful. But the man is not always to be estimated by his conversation; and he may possess much intellectual wealth, which he cannot readily arrange for exhibition, or which he may withhold from a want of confidence to produce it, or for which he may not immediately be able to find a proper vehicle of expression. To be brilliant in company are demanded clear self possession, quick combination of thought, a certain habit of mental digestion, and a peculiar art of bringing our wares, whether costly or cheap, advantageously into view; and of all these requisites the superior man may be destitute, and the inferior may be possessed. Certain it is that thousands, who are sparkling in conversation, are unequal to composition; and many, who are great in their writings, are without attraction and
consequence in company. Addison is reported to have said, that he had not a guinea in his pocket, but that he could draw upon bis banker for a thousand pounds: and both he and Dryden are known not to have been eminent for their companionable talents. With these illustrious men, in this instance of their alleged inferiority, may Goldsmith be classed, whilst in their higher character, as writers, he may justly also claim a place by their side; his prose being equal in its purity and elegance to that of Addison; and his poetry, though differently featured, discovering the same divine parentage with that of Dryden, His poetry, indeed, is exquisitely beautiful, if it be not sublime. Its distinguishing attributes are simplicity, and harmony, and a sweetness, as if gathered by the bees of Hymettus. Like a virgin proud in her native charms, it solicits not the aid of artifice for embellishment. It affects no novelties of expression to strike: it has recourse to no strong inversions of the sentence to separate itself from prose: it tries no experiments on metre to surprise and confound us with the result. Its sole instrument is the tongue of the people; and with this it infallibly accomplishes its purpose. It is studious only to please, and it invariably delights. Under an easy robe it conceals the most perfect symmetry; and, whilst it plays with the fancy, it never forfeits the approbation of the judgment. It may be regarded, in short, as an amber stream, flowing softly and fully without the interruption of a pebble in its channel, and sparkling under the radiance of an unclouded sun.
Liquidus......puroque simillimus amni,
Fundit'opes. As long as the language of England shall survive, or, when it ceases to be living, shall be made the subject of learned labour to attain, so long will • The Traveller' and · The Deserted Village' excite the respect of the reader for the genius, and will conciliate his affection for the benignity of their author,
THE TEARS OF GENIUS.
BY S. J. PRATT.
The village bell tolls out the tone of death,
gloom) Forlorn she hied; and there the crowding woe (Swell’d by the parent)press'don bleeding thought, Big ran the drops from her maternal eye, Fast broke the bosom sorrow from her heart,
And pale distress sat sickly on her cheek,
• And must my children all expire ?
I charge thee with my children slain! Scarce has the sun thrice urged his annual tour, Since half my race have felt thy barbarous
power; Sore hast thou thinn'd each pleasing art, And struck a muse with
dart: Bard after bard obey'd thy slaughtering call, Till scarce a poet lives to sing a brother's fall.
Then let a widow'd mother pay
The tribute of a parting lay; Tearful inscribe the monumental strain, And speak aloud her feelings and her pain! And first, · Farewell to thee, my son (she cried), Thou pride of Auburn's dale, sweet bard, farewell! Long, for thy sake, the peasant's tear shall flow, And many a virgin bosom heave with woe; For thee shall sorrow sadden all the scene, And every pastime perish on the green: The sturdy farmer shall suspend his tale, The woodman's ballad shall no more regale, No more shall mirth each rustic sport inspire, But
every frolic, every feat shall tire: