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TO THE

REV. HENRY GOLDSMITH.

DEAR SIR,

I am sensible that the friendship between us can acquire no new force from the ceremonies of a Dedication; and perhaps it demands an excuse thus to prefix your name to my attempts, which you decline giving with your own.

But as a part of this poem was formerly written to you from Switzerland, the whole can now, with propriety, be only inscribed to you. It will also throw a light upon many parts of it, when the reader understands that it is addressed to a man, who, despising fame and fortune, has retired early to happiness and obscurity, with an income of forty pounds a year.

I now perceive, my dear brother, the wisdom of your humble choice. You have entered upon a sacred office, where the harvest is great and the laborers are but few; while you have left the field of ambition, where the laborers are many and the harvest not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambition, what from the refinement of the times, from different systems of criticism, and from the divisions of party, that which pursues poetical fame is the wildest.*

{But of all kinds of ambition, as things are now circumstanced, perhaps that which pursues poetical fame is the wildest. What from the increased

Poetry makes a principal amusement among unpolished nations; but in a country verging to the extremes of refinement, painting and music come in for a share. As these offer the feeble mind a less laborious entertainment, they at first rival poetry, and at length supplant her; they engross all that favor once shown to her, and, though but younger sisters, seize upon the elder's birthright.

Yet, however this art may be neglected by the powerful, it is still in great danger from the mistaken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticisms have we not heard of late in favor of blank verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, anapests, and iambics, alliterative care and happy negligence ! Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it: and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.

But there is an enemy to this art still more dangerous—I mean party. Party entirely distorts the judgment and destroys the taste. When the mind once infected with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what contributes to increase the distemper. Like the tiger that seldom desists from pursuing man, after having once preyed upon human flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes ever after the most agreeable feast upon murdered

refinement of the times, from the diversity of judgments produced by opposing systems of criticism, and from the more prevalent divisions of opinion influenced by party, the strongest and happiest efforts can expect to please but in a very narrow circle. Though the poet were as sure of his aim as the imperial archer of antiquity, who boasted that he never missed the heart ; yet would many of his shafts now fly at random, for the heart is too often in the wrong place.”—First edit.]

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reputation. Such readers generally admire some half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character of a wise one. Him they dignify with the name of poet: his tawdry lampoons are called satires; his turbulence is said to be force, and his frenzy fire.

What reception a poem may find which has neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My aims are right. Without espousing the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavored to show, that there may be equal happiness in states that are differently governed from our own; that every state has a particular principle of happiness, and that this principle in each may be carried to a mischie vous excess. There are few can judge better than yourself, how far these positions are illustrated in this poem.

I am, dear Sir,
Your most affectionate Brother,

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.F

(" And that this principle in each state, and in our own in particular, may be carried to a mischievous excess.”First edit.]

+ [A feeling worthy of all praise produced this dedication to his brother. Careless of any interests of his own which might be promoted by conciliating the powerful or the wealthy, it was intended not merely as a return of respect and attention for the kindness shown to his earlier years, but to bring into notice, and perhaps preferment, should the work become popular, a worthy, though friendless clergyman. Allusions to the motive took place in conversation with his friends, and asterwards found its way into the newspapers ; in a paragraph in imitation of a paper of Swift, where, among other instances of men who have acted nobly, is the following :-“ Dr. Goldsmith, when he dedicated his beautiful poem, the Traveller, to a man of no greater income than forty pounds a year.”-See Life, ch. xiv.]

THE

TRAVELLER;

OR,

A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.

REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,*
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po;
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boort
Against the houseless stranger shuts the door ;

* (An anecdote connected with this poem, exhibiting that absence of mind and facility of temper in its author, which occasionally led him to make admissions which he did not mean, and which were thence sometimes turned against himself, was told by Dr. Johnson. “I remember," said he, “ Chamier once asked him what he meant by slow, in the first line of the Traveller. Did he mean tardiness of locomotion ? Goldsmith, who would say something without consideration, answered, · Yes.' I was sitting by and said, “ No, sir, you did not mean tardiness of locomotion ; you mean that sluggishness of mind which comes upon a man in solitude.' He, however, was a man who, whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do: he deserved a place in Westminster Abbey, and every year he lived would have deserved it better." See Boswell, vol. vii. p. 85, ed. 1835.]

† (Carinthia was visited by Goldsmith in 1755. Being questioned as to the justice of the censure passed upon a people whom other travellers praised for being as good, if not better than their neighbors, he gave as a reason his being once, after a fatiguing day's walk, obliged to quit a house he had entered for shelter, and pass part or whole of the night in seeking another. See Life, ch. x.]

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