Part 6 out of 6
EPITAPH ON EDWARD PURDON.
The occasion of this quatrain, first published as Goldsmith's* in 'Poems
and Plays', 1777, p. 79, is to be found in Forster's 'Life and Times of
Oliver Goldsmith', 1871, ii. 60. Purdon died on March 27, 1767
('Gentleman's Magazine', April, 1767, p. 192). '"Dr. Goldsmith made this
epitaph," says William Ballantyne [the author of 'Mackliniana'], "in his
way from his chambers in the Temple to the Wednesday evening's club at
the Globe. 'I think he will never come back', I believe he said. I was
sitting by him, and he repeated it more than twice. 'I think he will
never come back."' Purdon had been at Trinity College, Dublin, with
Goldsmith; he had subsequently been a foot soldier; ultimately he became
a 'bookseller's hack.' He wrote an anonymous letter to Garrick in 1759,
and translated the 'Henriade' of Voltaire. This translation Goldsmith is
supposed to have revised, and his own life of Voltaire was to have
accompanied it, though finally the Memoir and Translation seem to have
appeared separately. (Cf. prefatory note to 'Memoirs of M. de Voltaire'
in Gibbs's 'Works of Oliver Goldsmith', 1885, iv. 2.)
[footnote] *It had previously appeared as an extempore by a
correspondent in the 'Weekly Magazine', Edin., August 12, 1773 ('Notes
and Queries', February 14, 1880).
Forster says further, in a note, 'The original...is the epitaph on "La
Mort du Sieur Etienne":--
Il est au bout de ses travaux,
Il a passe, le Sieur Etienne;
En ce monde il eut tant des maux
Qu'on ne croit pas qu'il revienne.
With this perhaps Goldsmith was familiar, and had therefore less scruple
in laying felonious hands on the epigram in the 'Miscellanies' (Swift,
Well, then, poor G___ lies underground!
So there's an end of honest Jack.
So little justice here he found,
'Tis ten to one he'll ne'er come back.'
Mr. Forster's 'felonious hands' recalls a passage in Goldsmith's 'Life
of Parnell', 1770, in which, although himself an habitual sinner in this
way, he comments gravely upon the practice of plagiarism:-- 'It was the
fashion 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' (p.
EPILOGUE FOR LEE LEWES'S BENEFIT.
This benefit took place at Covent Garden on May 7, 1773, the pieces
performed being Rowe's 'Lady Jane Grey', and a popular pantomimic
after-piece by Theobald, called 'Harlequin Sorcerer', Charles Lee Lewes
(1740-1803) was the original 'Young Marlow' of 'She Stoops to Conquer'.
When that part was thrown up by 'Gentleman' Smith, Shuter, the 'Mr.
Hardcastle' of the comedy, suggested Lewes, who was the harlequin of the
theatre, as a substitute, and the choice proved an admirable one.
Goldsmith was highly pleased with his performance, and in consequence
wrote for him this epilogue. It was first printed by Evans, 1780, i.
l. 9. -----
"in thy black aspect", i.e. the half-mask of harlequin,
in which character the Epilogue was spoken.
l. 18. -----
"rosined lightning", stage-lightning, in which rosin is
EPILOGUE INTENDED FOR 'SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.'
This epilogue was first printed at pp. 82-6, vol. ii, of the
'Miscellaneous Works of' 1801. Bolton Corney says it had been given to
Percy by Goldsmith. It is evidently the 'quarrelling Epilogue' referred
to in the following letter from Goldsmith to Cradock ('Miscellaneous
Memoirs', 1826, i. 225-6):--
'MY DEAR SIR,
The Play ['She Stoops to Conquer'] has met with a success much beyond
your expectations or mine. I thank you sincerely for your Epilogue,
which, however could not be used, but with your permission, shall be
printed*. The story in short is this; Murphy sent me rather the outline
of an Epilogue than an Epilogue, which was to be sung by Mrs. Catley,
and which she approved. Mrs. Bulkley hearing this, insisted on throwing
up her part, unless according to the custom of the theatre, she were
permitted to speak the Epilogue. In this embarrassment I thought of
making a quarrelling Epilogue between Catley and her, debating who
should speak the Epilogue, but then Mrs. Catley refused, after I had
taken the trouble of drawing it out. I was then at a loss indeed; an
Epilogue was to be made, and for none but Mrs. Bulkley. I made one, and
Colman thought it too bad to be spoken; I was obliged therefore to try a
fourth time, and I made a very mawkish thing, as you'll shortly see.
Such is the history of my Stage adventures, and which I have at last
done with. I cannot help saying that I am very sick of the stage; and
though I believe I shall get three tolerable benefits, yet I shall upon
the whole be a loser, even in a pecuniary light; my ease and comfort I
certainly lost while it was in agitation.
I am, my dear Cradock,
Your obliged, and obedient servant,
P.S. -- Present my most humble respects to Mrs. Cradock.'
[footnote] *It is so printed with the note -- 'This came too late to be
According to Prior ('Miscellaneous Works', 1837, iv. 154), Goldsmith's
friend, Dr. Farr, had a copy of this epilogue which still, when Prior
wrote, remained in that gentleman's family.
l. 21. -----
"Who mump their passion", i.e. grimace their passion.
l. 31. -----
"ye macaroni train". The Macaronies were the foplings,
fribbles, or beaux of Goldsmith's day. Walpole refers to them as
early as 1764; but their flourishing time was 1770-3, when the
print-shops, and especially Matthew Darly's in the Strand, No.
39, swarmed with satirical designs of which they were the
subject. Selwyn, March -- many well-known names -- are found in
their ranks. Richard Cosway figured as 'The Macaroni Painter';
Angelica Kauffmann as 'The Paintress of Maccaroni's'; Thrale as
'The Southwark Macaroni.' Another caricature ('The Fluttering
Macaroni') contains a portrait of Miss Catley, the singing
actress of the present epilogue; while Charles Horneck, the
brother of 'The Jessamy Bride' (see p. 251, l. 14) is twice
satirized as 'The Martial Macaroni' and 'The Military Macaroni.'
The name, as may be guessed, comes from the Italian dish first
made fashionable by the 'Macaroni Club,' being afterwards
applied by extension to 'the younger and gayer part of our
nobility and gentry, who, at the same time that they gave in to
the luxuries of eating, went equally into the extravagancies of
dress.' ('Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine', Oct. 1772.) Cf. Sir
Benjamin Backbite's later epigram in 'The School for Scandal',
1777, Act ii, Sc. 2:--
Sure never was seen two such beautiful ponies;
Other horses are clowns, but these 'macaronies':
To give them this title I'm sure can't be wrong,
Their legs are so slim and their tails are so long.
l. 36. -----
"Their hands are only lent to the Heinel". See note to
l. 28, p. 85.
EPILOGUE INTENDED FOR 'SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.'
This epilogue, given by Goldsmith to Dr. Percy in MS., was first
published in the 'Miscellaneous Works' of 1801, ii. 87-8, as 'An
Epilogue intended for Mrs. Bulkley'. Percy did not remember for what
play it was intended; but it is plainly (see note to l. 40) the second
epilogue for 'She Stoops to Conquer' referred to in the letter printed
in this volume.
l. 1. -----
"There is a place, so Ariosto sings". 'The poet
alludes to the thirty-fourth canto of 'The Orlando furioso'.
Ariosto, as translated by Mr. Stewart Rose, observes of the
There thou wilt find, if thou wilt thither post,
Whatever thou on earth beneath hast lost.
Astolpho undertakes the journey; discovers a portion of his
own sense; and, in an ample flask, the lost wits of Orlando.'
(Bolton Corney.) Cf. also 'Rape of the Lock',
Canto v, ll. 113-14:
Some thought it mounted to the Lunar sphere,
Since all things lost on earth are treasur'd there.
Lord Chesterfield also refers to the 'happy extravagancy'
of Astolpho's journey in his 'Letters', 1774, i. 557.
l. 9. -----
"at Foote's Alone". 'Foote's' was the Little Theatre in
the Haymarket, where, in February, 1773, he brought out what he
described as a 'Primitive Puppet Show,' based upon the Italian
Fantoccini, and presenting a burlesque sentimental Comedy called
'The Handsome Housemaid; or, Piety in Pattens', which did as
much as 'She Stoops' to laugh false sentiment away. Foote warned
his audience that they would not discover 'much wit or humour'
in the piece, since 'his brother writers had all agreed that it
was highly improper, and beneath the dignity of a mixed
assembly, to show any signs of joyful satisfaction; and that
creating a laugh was forcing the higher order of an audience to
a vulgar and mean use of their muscles' -- for which reason, he
explained, he had, like them, given up the sensual for the
sentimental style. And thereupon followed the story of a maid of
low degree who, 'by the mere effects of morality and virtue,
raised herself [like Richardson's 'Pamela'], to riches and
honours.' The public, who for some time had acquiesced in the
new order of things under the belief that it tended to the
reformation of the stage, and who were beginning to weary of the
'moral essay thrown into dialogue,' which had for some time
supplanted humorous situation, promptly came round under the
influence of Foote's Aristophanic ridicule, and the 'comedie
larmoyante' received an appreciable check. Goldsmith himself had
prepared the way in a paper contributed to the 'Westminster
Magazine' for December, 1772 (vol. I. p. 4), with the title of
'An Essay on the Theatre; or, A Comparison between Laughing and
Sentimental Comedy.' The specific reference in the Prologue is
to the fact that Foote gave morning performances of 'The
Handsome Housemaid'. There was one, for instance, on Saturday,
March 6, 1773.
l. 27. -----
"The Mohawk". This particular species of the genus
'rake' belongs more to Swift's than Goldsmith's time, though the
race is eternal. There is an account of the 'Mohock Club' in
'Spectator', No. 324. See also 'Spectator', No. 347; Gay's
'Trivia', 1716, Book iii. p. 74; Swift's 'Journal to Stella',
March 8 and 26, 1712; and the 'Wentworth Papers', 1883, pp.
l. 40. -----
"Still stoops among the low to copy nature". This line,
one would think, should have helped to convince Percy that the
epilogue was intended for 'She Stoops to Conquer', and for no
The Oratorio of the 'Captivity' was written in 1764; but never set to
music. It was first printed in 1820 at pp. 451-70 of vol. ii of the
octavo edition of the 'Miscellaneous Works' issued by the trade in that
year. Prior reprinted it in 1837 ('Works', iv. Pp. 79-95) from the
'original manuscript' in Mr. Murray's possession; and Cunningham again
in 1854 ('Works', i. pp. 63-76). It is here reproduced from Prior. James
Dodsley, who bought the MS. for Newbery and himself, gave Goldsmith ten
guineas. Murray's copy was the one made for Dodsley, October 31, 1764;
the one printed in 1820, that made for Newbery. The latter, which once
belonged to the autograph collector, William Upcott, was in the market
l. 23. -----
Act i. This song had been published in the first
edition of 'The Haunch of Venison', 1776, with the second stanza
Thou, like the world, th' opprest oppressing,
Thy smiles increase the wretch's woe'
And he who wants each other blessing,
In thee must ever find a foe.
l. 33. -----
Act ii. This song also had appeared in the first edition
of 'The Haunch of Venison', 1776, in a different form:--
The Wretch condemn'd with life to part,
Still, still on Hope relies;
And ev'ry pang that rends the heart,
Bids Expectation rise.
Hope, like the glim'ring taper's light,
Adorns and chears the way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray.
Mitford, who printed 'The Captivity' from Newbery's version,
records a number of 'first thoughts' afterwards altered or
improved by the author in his MS. Modern editors have not
reproduced them, and their example has been followed here. 'The
Captivity' is not, in any sense, one of Goldsmith's important
VERSES IN REPLY TO AN INVITATION TO DINNER.
These were first published in the 'Miscellaneous Works' of 1837, iv.
132-3, having been communicated to the editor by Major-General Sir H. E.
Bunbury, Bart., the son of Henry William Bunbury, the well-known comic
artist, and husband of Catherine Horneck, the 'Little Comedy' to whom
Goldsmith refers. Dr. Baker, to whose house the poet was invited, was
Dr. (afterwards Sir George) Baker, 1722-1809. He was Sir Joshua's
doctor; and in 1776 became physician to George III, whom he attended
during his illness of 1788-9. He is often mentioned by Fanny Burney and
l. 11. -----
"Horneck", i.e. Mrs. Hannah Horneck -- the 'Plymouth
Beauty' -- widow of Captain Kane William Horneck, grandson of
Dr. Anthony Horneck of the Savoy, mentioned in Evelyn's 'Diary',
for whose 'Happy Ascetick', 1724, Hogarth designed a
frontispiece. Mrs. Horneck died in 1803. Like Sir Joshua, the
Hornecks came from Devonshire; and through him, had made the
acquaintance of Goldsmith.
"Nesbitt". Mr. Nesbitt was the husband of one of Mr. Thrale's
handsome sisters. He was a member of the Devonshire Club, and
twice (1759-61) sat to Reynolds, with whom he was intimate. He
died in 1779, and his widow married a Mr. Scott.
l. 13. -----
"Kauffmann". Angelica Kauffmann, the artist, 1741-1807.
She had come to London in 1766. At the close of 1767 she had
been cajoled into a marriage with an impostor, Count de Horn,
and had separated from him in 1768. In 1769 she painted a 'weak
and uncharacteristic' portrait of Reynolds for Mr. Parker of
Saltram (afterwards Baron Boringdon), which is now in the
possession of the Earl of Morley. It was exhibited at the Royal
Academy in the winter of 1876, and is the portrait referred to
at l. 44 below.
l. 14. -----
"the Jessamy Bride". This was Goldsmith's pet-name for
Mary, the elder Miss Horneck. After Goldsmith's death she
married Colonel F. E. Gwyn (1779). She survived until 1840. 'Her
own picture with a turban,' painted by Reynolds, was left to her
in his will ('Works' by Malone, 2nd ed., 1798, p. cxviii). She
was also painted by Romney and Hoppner. 'Jessamy,' or 'jessimy,'
with its suggestion of jasmine flowers, seems in
eighteenth-century parlance to have stood for 'dandified,'
'superfine,' 'delicate,' and the whole name was probably coined
after the model of some of the titles to Darly's prints, then
common in all the shops.
l. 16. -----
"The Reynoldses two", i.e. Sir Joshua and his sister,
l. 17. -----
"Little Comedy's face". 'Little Comedy' was Goldsmith's
name for the younger Miss Horneck, Catherine, and already
engaged to H. W. Bunbury ('v. supra'), to whom she was married
in 1771. She died in 1799, and had also been painted by
l. 18. -----
"the Captain in lace". This was Charles Horneck, Mrs.
Horneck's son, an officer in the Foot-guards. He afterwards
became a general, and died in 1804. (See note, p. 247, l. 31.)
l. 44. -----
"to-day's Advertiser". The lines referred to are said
by Prior to have been as follows:--
While fair Angelica, with matchless grace,
Paints Conway's lovely form and Stanhope's face;
Our hearts to beauty willing homage pay,
We praise, admire, and gaze our souls away.
But when the likeness she hath done for thee,
O Reynolds! with astonishment we see,
Forced to submit, with all our pride we own,
Such strength, such harmony, excell'd by none,
And thou art rivall'd by thyself alone.
They probably appeared in the newspaper at some date between
1769, when the picture was painted, and August 1771, when
'Little Comedy' was married, after which time Goldsmith would
scarcely speak of her except as 'Mrs. Bunbury' (see p. 132, l.
LETTER IN PROSE AND VERSE TO MRS. BUNBURY.
This letter, which contains some of the brightest and easiest of
Goldsmith's familiar verses, was addressed to Mrs. Bunbury (the 'Little
Comedy' of the 'Verses in Reply to an Invitation to Dinner', pp. 250-2),
in answer to a rhymed summons on her part to spend Christmas at Great
Barton in Suffolk, the family seat of the Bunburys. It was first printed
by Prior in the 'Miscellaneous Works' of 1837, iv. 148-51, and again in
1838 in Sir Henry Bunbury's 'Correspondence of Sir Thomas Hanmer,
Bart.', pp. 379-83. The text of the latter issue is here followed. When
Prior published the verses, they were assigned to the year 1772; in the
'Hanmer Correspondence' it is stated that they were 'probably written in
1773 or 1774.'
P. 130. -----
"your spring velvet coat". Goldsmith's pronounced
taste in dress, and his good-natured simplicity, made his
costume a fertile subject for playful raillery, -- sometimes,
for rather discreditable practical jokes. (See next note.)
P. 131. -----
"a wig, that is modish and gay". 'He always wore a
wig' -- said the 'Jessamy Bride' in her reminiscences to Prior
-- 'a peculiarity which those who judge of his appearance only
from the fine poetical head of Reynolds, would not suspect; and
on one occasion some person contrived to seriously injure this
important adjunct to dress. It was the only one he had in the
country, and the misfortune seemed irreparable until the
services of Mr. Bunbury's valet were called in, who however
performed his functions so indifferently that poor Goldsmith's
appearance became the signal for a general smile' (Prior's
'Life', 1837, ii. 378-9).
P. 131. -----
"Naso contemnere adunco". Cf. Horace, 'Sat'. i. 6. 5:--
naso suspendis adunco
and Martial, 'Ep'. i. 4. 6:--
Et pueri nasum Rhinocerotis habent.
l. 2. -----
"Loo", i.e. Lanctre- or Lanterloo, a popular
eighteenth-century game, in which 'Pam', l. 6, the knave of
clubs, is the highest card. Cf. Pope, 'Rape of the Lock', 1714,
Ev'n might 'Pam', that Kings and Queens o'erthrew,
And mow'd down armies in the fights of Lu;
and Colman's epilogue to 'The School for Scandal', 1777:--
And at backgammon mortify my soul,
That pants for 'loo', or flutters at a vole?
l. 17. -----
"Miss Horneck". Miss Mary Horneck, the 'Jessamy Bride'
('vide' note, p. 251, l. 14).
l. 36. -----
"Fielding". Sir John Fielding, d. 1780, Henry
Fielding's blind half-brother, who succeeded him as a Justice of
the Peace for the City and Liberties of Westminster. He was
knighted in 1761. There are two portraits of him by Nathaniel
l. 40. -----
"by quinto Elizabeth, Death without Clergy". Legal
authorities affirm that the Act quoted should be 8 Eliz. cap.
iv, under which those who stole more than twelvepence 'privately
from a man's person' were debarred from benefit of clergy. But
'quint. Eliz.' must have offered some special attraction to
poets, since Pope also refers to it in the 'Satires and
Epistles', i. 147-8:--
Consult the Statute: 'quart'. I think, it is,
'Edwardi sext.' or 'prim. et quint. Eliz.'
l. 44. -----
"With bunches of fennel, and nosegays before 'em". This
was a custom dating from the fearful jail fever of 1750, which
carried off, not only prisoners, but a judge (Mr. Justice Abney)
'and many jurymen and witnesses.' 'From that time up to this day
[i.e. 1855] it has been usual to place sweet-smelling herbs in
the prisoner's dock, to prevent infection.' (Lawrence's 'Life of
Henry Fielding', 1855, p. 296.) The close observation of
Cruikshank has not neglected this detail in the Old Bailey plate
of 'The Drunkard's Children', 1848, v.
l. 45. -----
"mobs". The mob was a loose undress or 'deshabille',
sometimes a hood. 'When we poor souls had presented ourselves
with a contrition suitable to our worthlessness, some pretty
young ladies in 'mobs', popped in here and there about the
church.' ('Guardian', No. 65, May 26, 1713.) Cf. also Addison's
'Fine Lady's Diary' ('Spectator', No. 323); 'Went in our 'Mobbs'
to the Dumb Man' (Duncan Campbell).
l. 50. -----
"yon solemn-faced". Cf. 'Introduction', p. xxvii.
According to the 'Jessamy Bride,' Goldsmith sometimes aggravated
his plainness by an 'assumed frown of countenance' (Prior,
'Life', 1837, ii. 379).
l. 55. -----
"Sir Charles", i.e. Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, Bart.,
M. P., Henry Bunbury's elder brother. He succeeded to the title
in 1764, and died without issue in 1821. Goldsmith, it may be
observed, makes 'Charles' a disyllable. Probably, like many of
his countrymen, he so pronounced it. (Cf. Thackeray's
'Pendennis', 1850, vol. ii, chap. 5 [or xliii], where this is
humorously illustrated in Captain Costigan's 'Sir 'Chorlus', I
saw your neem at the Levee.' Perhaps this accounts for 'failing'
and 'stealing,' -- 'day on' and 'Pantheon,' in the 'New Simile'.
Cooke ('European Magazine', October, 1793, p. 259) says that
Goldsmith 'rather cultivated (than endeavoured to get rid of)
l. 58. -----
"dy'd in grain", i.e. fixed, ineradicable. To 'dye in
grain' means primarily to colour with the scarlet or purple dye
produced by the 'kermes' insect, called 'granum' in Latin, from
its similarity to small seeds. Being what is styled a 'fast' dye
the phrase is used by extension to signify permanence.
VIDA'S GAME OF CHESS.
Forster thus describes the MS. of this poem in his 'Life of Goldsmith':
-- 'It is a small quarto manuscript of thirty-four pages, containing 679
lines, to which a fly-leaf is appended in which Goldsmith notes the
differences of nomenclature between Vida's chessmen and our own. It has
occasional interlineations and corrections, but such as would occur in
transcription rather than in a first or original copy. Sometimes indeed
choice appears to have been made (as at page 29) between two words
equally suitable to the sense and verse, as "to" for "toward"; but the
insertions and erasures refer almost wholly to words or lines
accidentally omitted and replaced. The triplet is always carefully
marked; and seldom as it is found in any other of Goldsmith's poems. I
am disposed to regard its frequent recurrence here as even helping, in
some degree, to explain the motive which had led him to the trial of an
experiment in rhyme comparatively new to him. If we suppose him, half
consciously, it may be, taking up the manner of the great master of
translation, Dryden, who was at all times so much a favourite with him,
he would at least, in so marked a peculiarity, be less apt to fall short
than to err perhaps a little on the side of excess. Though I am far from
thinking such to be the result in the present instance. The effect of
the whole translation is pleasing to me, and the mock-heroic effect I
think not a little assisted by the reiterated use of the triplet and
alexandrine. As to any evidence of authorship derivable from the
appearance of the manuscript, I will only add another word. The lines in
the translation have been carefully counted, and the number is marked in
Goldsmith's hand at the close of his transcription. Such a fact is, of
course, only to be taken in aid of other proof; but a man is not
generally at the pains of counting, still less, I should say in such a
case as Goldsmith's, of elaborately transcribing, lines which are not
his own.' (Forster's 'Goldsmith', 1871, ii. 235-6).
When Forster wrote the above, the MS. was in the possession of Mr.
Bolton Corney, who had not been aware of its existence when he edited
Goldsmith's Poems in 1845. In 1854 it was, with his permission, included
in vol. iv of Cunningham's 'Works' of 1854, and subsequently in the
Aldine 'Poems' of 1866.
Mark Jerome Vida of Cremona, 1490-1566, was Bishop of Alba, and
favourite of Leo the Magnificent. Several translators had tried their
hand at his 'Game of Chess' before Goldsmith. Lowndes mentions
Rowbotham, 1562; Jeffreys, 1736; Erskine, 1736; Pullin, 1750; and
'Anon'. (Eton), 1769 (who may have preceded Goldsmith). But after his
(Goldsmith's) death appeared another Oxford anonymous version, 1778, and
one by Arthur Murphy, 1786.
A. PORTRAITS OF GOLDSMITH.
B. DESCRIPTIONS OF NEWELL'S VIEWS OF LISSOY, ETC.
C. THE EPITHET 'SENTIMENTAL.'
D. FRAGMENTS OF TRANSLATIONS, ETC. BY GOLDSMITH.
E. GOLDSMITH ON POETRY UNDER ANNE AND GEORGE THE FIRST.
F. CRITICISMS FROM GOLDSMITH'S 'BEAUTIES OF ENGLISH POESY.'
PORTRAITS OF GOLDSMITH.
PORTRAITS of Goldsmith are not numerous; and the best known are those of
Reynolds and H. W. Bunbury. That by Sir Joshua was painted in 1766-70,
and exhibited in the Royal Academy (No. 151) from April 24th to May 28th
in the latter year. It represents the poet in a plain white collar,
furred mantle open at the neck, and holding a book in his right hand.
Its general characteristics are given at p. xxviii of the
'Introduction.' It was scraped in mezzotint in 1770 by Reynolds's
Italian pupil, Giuseppe, or Joseph Marchi; and it is dated 1st
December.* Bunbury's portrait first appeared, after Goldsmith's death,
as a frontispiece to the 'Haunch of Venison'; and it was etched in
facsimile by James Bretherton. The plate is dated May 24, 1776. In his
loyal but despotic 'Life of Goldsmith' (Bk. iv, ch. 6), Mr. John Forster
reproduces these portraits side by side; in order, he professes, to show
'the distinction between truth and a caricature of it.' Bunbury, it may
be, was primarily a caricaturist, and possibly looked at most things
from a more or less grotesque point of view; but this sketch -- it
should be observed -- was meant for a likeness, and we have the express
testimony of one who, if she was Bunbury's sister-in-law, was also
Goldsmith's friend, that it rendered Goldsmith accurately. It 'gives the
head with admirable fidelity' -- says the 'Jessamy Bride' (afterwards
Mrs. Gwyn) -- 'as he actually lived among us; nothing can exceed its
truth' (Prior's 'Life', 1837, ii. 380). In other words, it delineates
Goldsmith as his contemporaries saw him, with bulbous forehead,
indecisive chin, and long protruding upper lip, -- awkward,
insignificant, ill at ease, -- restlessly burning 'to get in and shine.'
It enables us moreover to understand how people who knew nothing of his
better and more lovable qualities, could speak of him as an 'inspired
idiot,' as 'silly Dr. Goldsmith,' as 'talking like poor Poll.' It is, in
short, his external, objective presentment. The picture by Sir Joshua,
on the contrary, is almost wholly subjective. Draped judiciously in a
popular studio costume, which is not that of the sitter's day, it
reveals to us the author of 'The Deserted Village' as Reynolds conceived
him to be at his best, serious, dignified, introspective, with his
physical defects partly extenuated by art, partly over-mastered by his
intellectual power. To quote the 'Jessamy Bride' once more -- it is 'a
fine poetical head for the admiration of posterity, but as it is
divested of his wig and with the shirt collar open, it was not the man
as seen in daily life' ('Ib'. ii. 380). Had Goldsmith lived in our era
of photography, photography would doubtless have given us something
which would have been neither the one nor the other, but more like
Bunbury than Reynolds. Yet we may be grateful for both. For Bunbury's
sketch and Reynolds's portrait are alike indispensable to the true
comprehension of Goldsmith's curiously dual personality.**
[footnote]* This was the print to which Goldsmith referred in a
well-known anecdote. Speaking to his old Peckham pupil, Samuel Bishop,
whom, after many years, he met accidentally in London, he asked him
eagerly whether he had got an engraving of the new portrait, and finding
he had not, 'said with some emotion, "if your picture had been
published, I should not have suffered an hour to elapse without
procuring it."' But he was speedily 'appeased by apologies.' (Prior's
'Life', 1837, i. 219-20.)
[footnote]** There is in existence another undated etching by Bretherton
after Bunbury on a larger scale, which comes much nearer to Reynolds;
and it is of course possible, though not in our opinion probable, that
Mrs. Gwyn may have referred to this. But Forster selected the other for
his comparison; it is prefixed to the 'Haunch of Venison'; it is
certainly the better known; and (as we believe) cannot ever have been
intended for a caricature.
The portrait by Reynolds, above referred to, was painted for the Thrale
Gallery at Streatham, on the dispersion of which, in May, 1816, it was
bought for the Duke of Bedford for 133 pounds 7s. It is now at Woburn
Abbey (Cat. No. 254). At Knole, Lord Sackville possesses another version
(Cat. No. 239), which was purchased in 1773 by the Countess Delawarr,
and was shown at South Kensington in 1867. Here the dress is a black
coat and a brown mantle with fur. The present owner exhibited it at the
Guelph Exhibition of 1891. A third version, now in the Irish National
Gallery, once belonged to Goldsmith himself, and then to his
brother-in-law, Daniel Hodson. Finally there is a copy, by a pupil of
Reynolds, in the National Portrait Gallery, to which it was bequeathed
in 1890 by Dr. Leifchild, having formerly been the property of Caleb
Whitefoord. Caleb Whitefoord also had an 'admirable miniature' by
Reynolds, which belongs to the Rev. Benjamin Whitefoord, Hon. Canon of
Salisbury ('Whitefoord Papers', 1898, p. xxvii). A small circular print,
based upon Reynolds, and etched by James Basire, figures on the
title-page of 'Retaliation'. Some of the plates are dated April 18,
1774.* The National Portrait Gallery has also a silhouette, attributed
to Ozias Humphry, R.A., which was presented in 1883 by Sir Theodore
Martin, K.C.B. Then there is the portrait by Hogarth shown at South
Kensington in 1867 by the late Mr. Studley Martin of Liverpool. It
depicts the poet writing at a round table in a black cap,
claret-coloured coat and ruffles. Of this there is a wood-cut in the
later editions of Forster's 'Life' (Bk. iii, ch. 14). The same
exhibition of 1867 contained a portrait of Goldsmith in a brown coat and
red waistcoat, 'as a young man.' It was said to be extremely like him in
face, and was attributed to Gainsborough. In Evans's edition of the
'Poetical and Dramatic Works' is another portrait engraved by Cook,
said, on some copies, to be 'from an original drawing'; and there is in
the Print Room at the British Museum yet another portrait still,
engraved by William Ridley 'from a painting in the possession of the
Rev. Mr. Williams,' no doubt Goldsmith's friend, the Rev. David
Williams, founder of the Royal Literary Fund. One of these last may have
been the work to which the poet refers in a letter to his brother
Maurice in January, 1770. 'I have sent my cousin Jenny [Jane Contarine]
a miniature picture of myself...The face you well know, is ugly enough,
but it is finely painted' ('Misc. Works', 1801, p. 88).
[footnote]* There is also a sketch by Reynolds (?) at the British
In front of Dublin University is a bronze statue of Goldsmith by J. H.
Foley, R.A., erected in 1864.* Of this there is a good engraving by G.
Stodart. On the memorial in Westminster Abbey erected in 1776 is a
medallion by Joseph Nollekens.
[footnote]* Goldsmith's traditional ill-luck pursued him after death.
During some public procession in front of Trinity College, a number of
undergraduates climbed on the statue, with the result that the thin
metal of the poet's head was flattened or crushed in, requiring for its
readjustment very skilful restorative treatment. The Editor is indebted
for this item of information to the kindness of Mr. Percy Fitzgerald,
who was present at the subsequent operation.
DESCRIPTIONS OF NEWELL'S VIEWS OF LISSOY, ETC.
In 1811, the Rev. R. H. Newell, B.D. and Fellow of St. John's College,
Cambridge, issued an edition of the 'Poetical Works' of Goldsmith. The
distinctive feature of this lay in the fact that it was illustrated by a
number of aquatints 'by Mr. Alkin' (i.e. Samuel Alken), after drawings
made by Newell in 1806-9, and was accompanied by a series of 'Remarks,
attempting to ascertain, chiefly from local observation, the actual
scene of 'The Deserted Village'.' Some quotations from these 'Remarks'
have already been made in the foregoing notes; but as copies of six of
the drawings are given in this volume, it may be well, in each case, to
reproduce Newell's 'descriptions.'
LISHOY, OR LISSOY MILL.
The west end of it, as seen from a field near the road; to the north the
country slopes away in coarsely cultivated enclosures, and the distance
eastward is bounded by the Longford hills. The stream ran from the south
side of the mill (where it is still of some width though nearly choked
up), and fell over the once busy wheel, into a deep channel, now
overgrown with weeds. Neglect and poverty appear all around. The farm
house and barn-like buildings, which fill up the sketch, seem to have no
circumstances of interest attached to them (p. 83).
KILKENNY WEST CHURCH.
This south-west view was taken from the road, which passes by the
church, towards Lishoy, and overlooks the adjacent country to the west.
The church appears neat, its exterior having been lately repaired. The
tree added to the foreground is the only liberty taken with the subject
An east view of the tree, as it stood in August, 1806. The Athlone road
occupies the centre of the sketch, winding round the stone wall to the
right, into the village, and to the left leading toward the church. The
cottage and tree opposite the hawthorn, adjoin the present public-house;
the avenue before the parsonage tops the distant eminence (p. 84).
SOUTH VIEW FROM GOLDSMITH'S MOUNT.
In this sketch 'the decent church,' at the top of the hill in the
distance, is an important object, from its exact correspondence with the
situation given it in the poem. Half-way up stands the solitary ruin of
Lord Dillon's castle. The hill in shadow, on the left, is above the
village, and is supposed to be alluded to in the line --
Up yonder hill the distant murmur rose.
A flat of bogland extends from the narrow lake in the centre to the
mount on the right of the foreground (p. 84).
A south view from the Athlone road, which runs parallel with the stone
wall, and nearly east and west: the gateway is that mentioned in
Goldsmith's letter*, the mount being directly opposite, in a field
contiguous with the road.
[footnote] *See note to l. 114 of 'The Deserted Village'.
The ruinous stone wall in this and three other sketches, which is a
frequent sort of fence in the neighbourhood, gives a characteristic
propriety to the line (48)
And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall.
This cottage is situated, as the poem describes it, by the road-side,
just where it forms a sharp angle by branching out from the village
eastward: at this point a south-west view was taken (p. 85).
Newell's book was reissued in 1820; but no alterations were made in the
foregoing descriptions which, it must be borne in mind, refer to 1806-9.
His enthusiastic identifications will no doubt be taken by the reader
with the needful grain of salt. Goldsmith probably remembered the
hawthorn bush, the church upon the hill, the watercress gatherer, and
some other familiar objects of the 'seats of his youth.' But distance
added charm to the regretful retrospect; and in the details his fancy
played freely with his memories. It would be unwise, for example, to
infer -- as Mr. Hogan did -- the decorations of the 'Three Pidgeons' at
Lissoy from the account of the inn in the poem.* Some twelve years
before its publication, when he was living miserably in Green Arbour
Court, Goldsmith had submitted to his brother Henry a sample of a
heroi-comic poem describing a Grub Street writer in bed in 'a paltry
ale-house.' In this 'the sanded floor,' the 'twelve good rules' and the
broken tea-cups all played their parts as accessories, and even the
double-dealing chest had its prototype in the poet's night-cap, which
was 'a cap by night -- a stocking all the day.' A year or two later he
expanded these lines in the 'Citizen of the World', and the scene
becomes the Red Lion in Drury Lane. From this second version he adapted,
or extended again, the description of the inn parlour in 'The Deserted
Village'. It follows therefore, either that he borrowed for London the
details of a house in Ireland, or that he used for Ireland the details
of a house in London. If, on the other hand, it be contended that those
details were common to both places, then the identification in these
particulars of Auburn with Lissoy falls hopelessly to the ground.
[footnote] *What follows is taken from the writer's 'Introduction' to
Mr. Edwin Abbey's illustrated edition of 'The Deserted Village', 1902,
THE EPITHET 'SENTIMENTAL.'
Goldsmith's use of 'sentimental' in the 'prologue' to 'She Stoops to
Conquer' (p. 109, l. 36) -- the only occasion upon which he seems to
have employed it in his 'poems' -- affords an excuse for bringing
together one or two dispersed illustrations of the rise and growth of
this once highly-popular adjective, not as yet reached in the N. E. D.
Johnson, who must often have heard it, ignores it altogether; and in
Todd's edition of his 'Dictionary' (1818) it is expressly marked with a
star as one of the modern words which are 'not' to be found in the
Doctor's collection. According to Mr. Sidney Lee's admirable article in
the 'Dictionary of National Biography' on Sterne, that author is to be
regarded as the 'only begetter' of the epithet. Mr. Lee says that it
first occurs in a letter of 1740 written by the future author of
'Tristram Shandy' to the Miss Lumley he afterwards married. Here is the
precise and characteristic passage:-- 'I gave a thousand pensive,
penetrating looks at the chair thou hadst so often graced, in those
quiet and 'sentimental' repasts -- then laid down my knife and fork, and
took out my handkerchief, and clapped it across my face, and wept like a
child' (Sterne's 'Works' by Saintsbury, 1894, v. 25). Nine years later,
however circulated, 'sentimental' has grown 'so much in vogue' that it
has reached from London to the provinces. 'Mrs. Belfour' (Lady
Bradshaigh) writing from Lincolnshire to Richardson says:-- 'Pray, Sir,
give me leave to ask you...what, in your opinion, is the meaning of the
word 'sentimental', so much in vogue amongst the polite, both in town
and country? In letters and common conversation, I have asked several
who make use of it, and have generally received for answer, it is -- it
is -- 'sentimental'. Every thing clever and agreeable is comprehended in
that word; but [I] am convinced a wrong interpretation is given, because
it is impossible every thing clever and agreeable can be so common as
this word. I am frequently astonished to hear such a one is a
'sentimental' man; we were a 'sentimental' party; I have been taking a
'sentimental' walk. And that I might be reckoned a little in the
fashion, and, as I thought, show them the proper use of the word, about
six weeks ago, I declared I had just received a 'sentimental' letter.
Having often laughed at the word, and found fault with the application
of it, and this being the first time I ventured to make use of it, I was
loudly congratulated upon the occasion: but I should be glad to know
your interpretation of it' (Richardson's 'Correspondence', 1804, iv. pp.
282-3). The reply of the author of 'Clarissa', which would have been
interesting, is not given; but it is clear that by this date (1749)
'sentimental' must already have been rather overworked by 'the polite.'
Eleven years after this we meet with it in the Prologue to Colman's
'Dramatick Novel' of 'Polly Honeycombe'. 'And then,' he says, commenting
upon the fiction of the period, --
And then so 'sentimental' is the Stile,
So chaste, yet so bewitching all the while!
Plot, and elopement, passion, rape, and rapture,
The total sum of ev'ry dear -- dear -- Chapter.
With February, 1768, came Sterne's 'Sentimental Journey' upon which
Wesley has this comment:-- 'I casually took a volume of what is called,
"A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy." 'Sentimental'! what is
that? It is not English: he might as well say, 'Continental' [!]. It is
not sense. It conveys no determinate idea; yet one fool makes many. And
this nonsensical word (who would believe it?) is become a fashionable
one!' ('Journal', February 11, 1772). In 1773, Goldsmith puts it in the
'Dedication' to 'She Stoops':-- 'The undertaking a comedy, not merely
'sentimental', was very dangerous;' and Garrick (forgetting Kelly and
'False Delicacy') uses it more than once in his 'Prologue' to the same
play, e.g. -- 'Faces are blocks in 'sentimental' scenes.' Further
examples might easily be multiplied, for the word, in spite of Johnson,
had now come to stay. Two years subsequently we find Sheridan referring
The goddess of the woful countenance,
The 'sentimental' Muse! --
in an occasional 'Prologue' to 'The Rivals'. It must already have
passed into the vocabulary of the learned. Todd gives examples from
Shenstone and Langhorne. Warton has it more than once in his 'History of
English Poetry'; and it figures in the 'Essays' of Vicesimus Knox. Thus
academically launched, we need no longer follow its fortunes.
FRAGMENTS OF TRANSLATIONS, ETC., BY
To the Aldine edition of 1831, the Rev. John Mitford added several
fragments of translation from Goldsmith's 'Essays'. About a third of
these were traced by Bolton Corney in 1845 to the 'Horace' of Francis.
He therefore compiled a fresh collection, here given.
'From a French version of Homer'.
The shouting army cry'd with joy extreme,
He sure must conquer, who himself can tame!
'The Bee', 1759, p. 90.
The next is also from Homer, and is proposed as an
improvement of Pope:--
They knew and own'd the monarch of the main:
The sea subsiding spreads a level plain:
The curling waves before his coursers fly:
The parting surface leaves his brazen axle dry.
'Miscellaneous Works', 1801, iv. 410.
From the same source comes number three,
a quatrain from Vida's 'Eclogues':--
Say heavenly muse, their youthful frays rehearse;
Begin, ye daughters of immortal verse;
Exulting rocks have crown'd the power of song!
And rivers listen'd as they flow'd along.
'Miscellaneous Works', 1801, iv. 427.
Another is a couplet from Ovid, the fish
referred to being the 'scarus' or bream:--
Of all the fish that graze beneath the flood,
He, 'only', ruminates his former food.
'History of the Earth, etc.', 1774, iii. 6.
Bolton Corney also prints the translation from the 'Spectator', already
given in this volume. His last fragment is from the posthumous
translation of Scarron's 'Roman Comique':--
Thus, when soft love subdues the heart
With smiling hopes and chilling fears,
The soul rejects the aid of art,
And speaks in moments more than years.
'The Comic Romance of Monsieur Scarron', 1775, ii. 161.
It is unnecessary to refer to any other of the poems attributed to
Goldsmith. Mitford included in his edition a couple of quatrains
inserted in the 'Morning Chronicle' for April 3, 1800, which were said
to be by the poet; but they do not resemble his manner. Another piece
with the title of 'The Fair Thief' was revived in July, 1893, by an
anonymous writer in the 'Daily Chronicle', as being possibly by
Goldsmith, to whom it was assigned in an eighteenth-century anthology
(1789-80). Its discoverer, however, subsequently found it given in
Walpole's 'Noble Authors' (Park's edition, 1806) to Charles Wyndham,
Earl of Egremont. It has no great merit; and may safely be neglected as
an important addition to Goldsmith's 'Works', already burdened with much
which that critical author would never have reprinted.
GOLDSMITH ON POETRY UNDER ANNE AND
GEORGE THE FIRST.
In Letter xvi, vol. ii. pp.139-41, of 'An History of England in a Series
of Letters from a Nobleman to his Son', 1764, Goldsmith gives the
following short account of the state of poetry in the first quarter of
the Eighteenth Century.
'But, of all the other arts, poetry in this age was carried to the
greatest perfection. The language, for some ages, had been improving,
but now it seemed entirely divested of its roughness and barbarity.
Among the poets of this period we may place John Philips, author of
several poems, but of none more admired than that humourous one,
entitled, 'The Splendid Shilling'; he lived in obscurity, and died just
above want. William Congreve deserves also particular notice; his
comedies, some of which were but coolly received upon their first
appearance, seemed to mend upon repetition; and he is, at present,
justly allowed the foremost in that species of dramatic poesy. His wit
is ever just and brilliant; his sentiments new and lively; and his
elegance equal to his regularity. Next him Vanbrugh is placed, whose
humour seems more natural, and characters more new; but he owes too many
obligations to the French, entirely to pass for an original; and his
total disregard to decency, in a great measure, impairs his merit.
Farquhar is still more lively, and, perhaps more entertaining than
either; his pieces still continue the favourite performances of the
stage, and bear frequent repetition without satiety; but he often
mistakes pertness for wit, and seldom strikes his characters with proper
force or originality. However, he died very young; and it is remarkable,
that he continued to improve as he grew older; his last play, entitled
'The Beaux' Strategem', being the best of his productions. Addison, both
as a poet and prose writer, deserves the highest regard and imitation.
His 'Campaign', and 'Letter to Lord Halifax from Italy', are
masterpieces in the former, and his 'Essays' published in the
'Spectator' are inimitable specimens of the latter. Whatever he treated
of was handled with elegance and precision; and that virtue which was
taught in his writings, was enforced by his example. Steele was
Addison's friend and admirer; his comedies are perfectly polite, chaste,
and genteel; nor were his other works contemptible; he wrote on several
subjects, and yet it is amazing, in the multiplicity of his pursuits,
how he found leisure for the discussion of any. Ever persecuted by
creditors, whom his profuseness drew upon him, or pursuing impracticable
schemes, suggested by ill-grounded ambition. Dean Swift was the
professed antagonist both of Addison and him. He perceived that there
was a spirit of romance mixed with all the works of the poets who
preceded him; or, in other words, that they had drawn nature on the most
pleasing side. There still therefore was a place left for him, who,
careless of censure, should describe it just as it was, with all its
deformities; he therefore owes much of his fame, not so much to the
greatness of his genius, as to the boldness of it. He was dry,
sarcastic, and severe; and suited his style exactly to the turn of his
thought, being concise and nervous. In this period also flourished many
of subordinate fame. Prior was the first who adopted the French elegant
easy manner of telling a story; but if what he has borrowed from that
nation be taken from him, scarce anything will be left upon which he can
lay any claim to applause in poetry. Rowe was only outdone by
Shakespeare and Otway as a tragic writer; he has fewer absurdities than
either; and is, perhaps, as pathetic as they; but his flights are not so
bold, nor his characters so strongly marked. Perhaps his coming later
than the rest may have contributed to lessen the esteem he deserves.
Garth had success as a poet; and, for a time, his fame was even greater
than his desert. In his principal work, 'The Dispensary', his
versification is negligent; and his plot is now become tedious; but
whatever he may lose as a poet, it would be improper to rob him of the
merit he deserves for having written the prose dedication, and preface,
to the poem already mentioned; in which he has shown the truest wit,
with the most refined elegance. Parnell, though he has written but one
poem, namely, 'The Hermit', yet has found a place among the English
first rate poets. Gay, likewise, by his 'Fables' and 'Pastorals', has
acquired an equal reputation. But of all who have added to the stock of
English Poetry, Pope, perhaps, deserves the first place. On him,
foreigners look as one of the most successful writers of his time; his
versification is the most harmonious, and his correctness the most
remarkable of all our poets. A noted contemporary of his own calls the
English the finest writers on moral topics, and Pope the noblest moral
writer of all the English. Mr. Pope has somewhere named himself the last
English Muse; and, indeed, since his time, we have seen scarce any
production that can justly lay claim to immortality; he carried the
language to its highest perfection; and those who have attempted still
farther to improve it, instead of ornament, have only caught finery.'
CRITICISMS FROM GOLDSMITH'S 'BEAUTIES
OF ENGLISH POESY.'
To 'The Beauties of English Poesy', 2 vols., 1767, Goldsmith
prefixed, in each case, 'short introductory criticisms.' They
are, as he says, 'rather designed for boys than men'; and aim
only at being 'obvious and sincere'; but they carry his views on
the subject somewhat farther than the foregoing account from the
'History of England'.
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
This seems to be Mr. Pope's most finished production, and is,
perhaps, the most perfect in our language. It exhibits stronger
powers of imagination, more harmony of numbers, and a greater
knowledge of the world, than any other of this poet's works; and
it is probable, if our country were called upon to show a
specimen of their genius to foreigners, this would be the work
here fixed upon.
This poem is held in just esteem, the versification being
chaste, and tolerably harmonious, and the story told with
perspicuity and conciseness. It seems to have cost great labour,
both to Mr. Pope and Parnell himself, to bring it to this
perfection.* It may not be amiss to observe that the fable is
taken from one of Dr. Henry More's Dialogues.
[footnote] *Parnell's 'Poems', 1770, xxiv.
I have heard a very judicious critic say, that he had an higher
idea of Milton's style in poetry, from the two following poems
['Il Penseroso' and 'l'Allegro'], than from his 'Paradise Lost'.
It is certain the imagination shown in them is correct and
strong. The introduction to both in irregular measure is
borrowed from the Italian, and hurts an English ear.
AN ELEGY, WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH YARD.
This is a very fine poem, but overloaded with epithet.* The
heroic measure with alternate rhyme is very properly adapted to
the solemnity of the subject, as it is the slowest movement that
our language admits of. The latter part of the poem is pathetic
[footnote] *This is a strange complaint to come from Goldsmith,
whose own 'Hermit', as was pointed out to the present Editor by
the late Mr. Kegan Paul, is certainly open to this impeachment.
LONDON. IN IMITATION OF THE THIRD SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
This poem of Mr. Johnson's is the best imitation of the original
that has appeared in our language, being possessed of all the
force and satirical resentment of Juvenal. Imitation gives us a
much truer idea of the ancients than even translation could do.
THE SCHOOL-MISTRESS. IN IMITATION OF SPENSER.
This poem is one of those happinesses in which a poet excels
himself, as there is nothing in all Shenstone which in any way
approaches it in merit; and, though I dislike the imitations of
our old English poets in general, yet, on this minute subject,
the antiquity of the style produces a very ludicrous solemnity.
This poem, by Denham, though it may have been exceeded by later
attempts in description, yet deserves the highest applause, as
it far surpasses all that went before it: the concluding part,
though a little too much crowded, is very masterly.
ELOISA TO ABELARD.
The harmony of numbers in this poem is very fine. It is rather
drawn out to too tedious a length, although the passions vary
with great judgement. It may be considered as superior to
anything in the epistolary way; and the many translations which
have been made of it into the modern languages, are in some
measure a proof of this.
AN EPISTLE FROM MR. PHILIPS* TO THE EARL OF DORSET.
The opening of this poem is incomparably fine. The latter part
is tedious and trifling.
[footnote] *Ambrose Philips.
A LETTER FROM ITALY, TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE CHARLES LORD
In the Year MDCCI.
Few poems have done more honour to English genius than this.
There is in it a strain of political thinking that was, at that
time, new in our poetry. Had the harmony of this been equal to
that of Pope's versification, it would be incontestably the
finest poem in our language; but there is a dryness in the
numbers which greatly lessens the pleasure excited both by the
poet's judgement and imagination.*
[footnote] *See introductory note to 'The Traveller', p. 162.
ALEXANDER'S FEAST; OR, THE POWER OF MUSIC. AN ODE, IN HONOUR OF
ST. CECILIA'S DAY.
This ode [by Mr. Dryden] has been more applauded, perhaps, than
it has been felt, however, it is a very fine one, and gives its
beauties rather at a third, or fourth, than at a first perusal.
ODE FOR MUSIC ON ST. CECILIA'S DAY.
This ode [by Mr. Pope] has by many been thought equal to the
former. As it is a repetition of Dryden's manner, it is so far
inferior to him. The whole hint of Orpheus, and many of the
lines, have been taken from an obscure Ode upon Music, published
in Tate's Miscellanies.*
[footnote] *'A Pindaric Essay upon Musick' -- says Gibbs -- by
'Mr. Wilson',' which appears at p. 401 of Tate's Collection of
THE SHEPHERD'S WEEK. IN SIX PASTORALS.
These are Mr. Gay's principal performances. They were
originally intended, I suppose, as a burlesque on those of
[Ambrose] Philips; but, perhaps without designing it, he has hit
the true spirit of pastoral poetry. In fact, he more resembles
Theocritus than any other English pastoral writer whatsoever.
There runs through the whole a strain of rustic pleasantry which
should ever distinguish this species of composition; but how far
the antiquated expressions used here may contribute to the
humour, I will not determine; for my own part, I could wish the
simplicity were preserved, without recurring to such obsolete
antiquity for the manner of expressing it.
The severity of this satire, and the excellence of its
versification give it a distinguished rank in this species of
composition. At present, an ordinary reader would scarce suppose
that Shadwell, who is here meant by Mac Flecknoe, was worth
being chastised, and that Dryden's descending to such game was
like an eagle's stooping to catch flies.* The truth however is,
Shadwell, at one time, held divided reputation with this great
poet. Every age produces its fashionable dunces, who, by
following the transient topic, or humour, of the day, supply
talkative ignorance with materials for conversation.
[footnote] *'Aquila non capit muscas' (Apostolius).
ON POETRY. A RHAPSODY.
Here follows one of the best versified poems in our language,
and the most masterly production of its author. The severity
with which Walpole is here treated, was in consequence of that
minister having refused to provide for Swift in England, when
applied to for that purpose in the year 1725 (if I remember
right). The severity of a poet, however, gave Walpole very
little uneasiness. A man whose schemes, like this minister's,
seldom extended beyond the exigency of the year, but little
regarded the contempt of posterity.
OF THE USE OF RICHES.
This poem, as Mr. Pope tells us himself, cost much attention and
labour; and, from the easiness that appears in it, one would be
apt to think as much.
FROM THE DISPENSARY.
This sixth canto of the 'Dispensary', by Dr. Garth, has more
merit than the whole preceding part of the poem, and, as I am
told, in the first edition of this work it is more correct than
as here exhibited; but that edition I have not been able to
find. The praises bestowed on this poem are more than have been
given to any other; but our approbation, at present, is cooler,
for it owed part of its fame to party.*
[footnote] *Cf. Dedication of 'The Traveller', ll. 34-45.
ECLOGUE I. SELIM: OR, THE SHEPHERD'S MORAL.
The following eclogues*, written by Mr. Collins, are very
pretty: the images, it must be owned, are not very local; for
the pastoral subject could not well admit of it. The description
of Asiatic magnificence, and manners, is a subject as yet
unattempted amongst us, and I believe, capable of furnishing a
great variety of poetical imagery.
[footnote] *i.e. -- Selim, Hassan, Agib and Secander, and Abra.
Goldsmith admired Collins, whom he calls in the 'Enquiry', 1759,
p. 143, 'the neglected author of the Persian eclogues, which,
however inaccurate, excel any in our language.' He borrowed
freely from him in the 'Threnodia Augustalis', q.v.
THE SPLENDID SHILLING. BY MR. J. PHILIPS.
This is reckoned the best parody of Milton in our language: it
has been an hundred times imitated, without success. The truth
is, the first thing in this way must preclude all future
attempts; for nothing is so easy as to burlesque any man's
manner, when we are once showed the way.
A PIPE OF TOBACCO: IN IMITATION OF SIX SEVERAL AUTHORS.
Mr. Hawkins Browne, the author of these, as I am told, had no
good original manner of his own, yet we see how well he
succeeded when he turns an imitator; for the following are
rather imitations than ridiculous parodies.
A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH.
The great fault of this piece, written by Dr. Parnell, is that
it is in eight-syllable lines, very improper for the solemnity
of the subject; otherwise, the poem is natural, and the
A FAIRY TALE. BY DR. PARNELL.
Never was the old manner of speaking more happily applied, or a
tale better told, than this.
PALEMON AND LAVINIA.*
Mr. Thomson, though, in general, a verbose and affected poet,
has told this story with unusual simplicity: it is rather given
here for being much esteemed by the public, than by the editor.
[footnote] *From 'The Seasons'.
Almost all things written from the heart, as this certainly was,
have some merit. The poet here describes sorrows and misfortunes
which were by no means imaginary; and, thus, there runs a truth
of thinking through this poem, without which it would be of
little value, as Savage is, in other respects, but an
THE POET AND HIS PATRON.
Mr. Mo[o]re was a poet that never had justice done him while
living; there are few of the moderns have a more correct taste,
or a more pleasing manner of expressing their thoughts. It was
upon these fables [Nos. v, vi, and xvi of the 'Fables for the
Ladies'] he chiefly founded his reputation; yet they are, by no
means, his best production.
AN EPISTLE TO A LADY.
This little poem, by Mr. Nugent [afterwards Lord Clare] is very
pleasing. The easiness of the poetry, and the justice of the
thoughts, constitute its principal beauty.
This bagatelle, for which, by the by, Mr. Prior has got his
greatest reputation, was a tale told in all the old Italian
collections of jests, and borrowed from thence by Fontaine. It
had been translated once or twice before into English, yet was
never regarded till it fell into the hands of Mr. Prior. A
strong instance how everything is improved in the hands of a man
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON.
This poem [by Swift] is very fine; and though in the same strain
with the preceding [Prior's 'Ladle'] is yet superior.
TO THE EARL OF WARWICK, ON THE DEATH OF MR. ADDISON.
This elegy (by Mr. Ticknell) is one of the finest in our
language; there is so little new that can be said upon the death
of a friend, after the complaints of Ovid and the Latin
Italians, in this way, that one is surprised to see so much
novelty in this to strike us, and so much interest to affect.
COLIN AND LUCY.
Through all Tickell's works there is a strain of
ballad-thinking, if I may so express it; and, in this professed
ballad, he seems to have surpassed himself. It is, perhaps, the
best in our language in this way.
THE TEARS OF SCOTLAND. WRITTEN IN THE YEAR MDCCXLVI.
This ode, by Dr. Smollett, does rather more honour to the
author's feelings than his taste. The mechanical part, with
regard to numbers and language, is not so perfect as so short a
work as this requires; but the pathetic it contains,
particularly in the last stanza but one, is exquisitely fine.
ON THE DEATH OF THE LORD PROTECTOR.
Our poetry was not quite harmonized in Waller's time; so that
this, which would be now looked upon as a slovenly sort of
versification, was, with respect to the times in which it was
written, almost a prodigy of harmony. A modern reader will
chiefly be struck with the strength of thinking, and the turn of
the compliments bestowed upon the usurper. Everybody has heard
the answer our poet made Charles II; who asked him how his poem
upon Cromwell came to be finer than his panegyric upon himself.
'Your majesty,' replies Waller, 'knows, that poets always
succeed best in fiction.'
THE STORY OF PHOEBUS AND DAPHNE APPLIED.
The French claim this [by Mr. Waller] as belonging to them. To
whomsoever it belongs the thought is finely turned.
NIGHT THOUGHTS. BY DR. YOUNG.
These seem to be the best of the collection; from whence only
the two first are taken. They are spoken of differently, either
with exaggerated applause or contempt, as the reader's
disposition is either turned to mirth or melancholy.
Young's Satires were in higher reputation when published, than
they stand in at present. He seems fonder of dazzling than
pleasing; of raising our admiration for his wit, than our
dislike of the follies he ridicules.
A PASTORAL BALLAD.
These ballads of Mr. Shenstone are chiefly commended for the
natural simplicity of the thoughts and the harmony of the
versification. However, they are not excellent in either.
PHOEBE. A PASTORAL.
This, by Dr. Byrom, is a better effort than the preceding [a
ballad by Shenstone].
This ['Despairing beside a clear stream'] by Mr. Rowe, is better
than anything of the kind in our language.
AN ESSAY ON POETRY.
This work, by the Duke of Buckingham, is enrolled among our
great English productions. The precepts are sensible, the poetry
not indifferent, but it has been praised more than it deserves.
CADENUS AND VANESSA.
This is thought one of Dr. Swift's correctest pieces; its chief
merit, indeed, is the elegant ease with which a story, but
ill-conceived in itself, is told.
ALMA: OR, THE PROGRESS OF THE MIND.
What Prior meant by this poem I can't understand; by the Greek
motto to it one would think it was either to laugh at the
subject or the reader. There are some parts of it very fine; and
let them save the badness of the rest.