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the poet, from their Belgian ancestors ! how different from the present race of Britain !
To Britain, then, he turns, and begins with a slight sketch of the country, in which, he says, the mildest charms of creation are combined.
* Extremes are only in the master's mind.'
lle then draws a very striking picture of a stern, thoughtful
opinions, which bear evident marks of confused notions and a heated imagination. I shall confine myself to a remark upon the English national character, which will apply to him in common with various other writers, native and foreign.
This country has long been in the possession of more unrestrained freedom of thinking and acting than any other perhaps that ever existed ; a consequence of which has been, that all those peculiarities of character, which in other nations remain concealed in the general mass, have here stood forth prominent and conspicuous; and these being from their nature calculated to draw attention, have by superficial observers been mistaken for the general character of the people. This has been particularly the case with political distinction. From the publicity of all proceedings in the legislative part of our constitution and the independence with which many act, all party differences are strongly markedł, and public men take their side with openness and confidence. Public topics, too, are discussed by all ranks; and whatever seeds there are in any part of the society of spirit and activity, have full opportunity of germinating. But to imagine that these busy and highspirited characters conipose a majority of the community, or perhaps a much greater proportion than in other countries, is a delusion. This nation, as a body, is, like all others, characterized by circumstances of its situation ; and a rich commercial people, long trained to society, inhabiting a climate where many things are necessary to the comfort of life, and under a government abounding with splendid distinctions, cannot possibly be a knot of philosophers and patriots.
To return from this digression. Though it is probable that few of GOLDSMITH's readers will be convinced, even from the instances he has himself produced, that the happiness of
mankind is everywhere equal; yet all will feel the force of the truly philosophical sentiment which concludes the piece that man's chief bliss is ever seated in his mind ; and that but a small part of real felicity consists in what human governments can either bestow or withhold.
The Deserted Village, first printed in 1769, is the companion-piece of the Traveller, formed, like it, upon a plan which unites description with sentiment, and employs both in inculcating a political moral. It is a view of the prosperous and ruined state of a country village, with reflections on the causes of both. Such it may be defined in prose ; but the disposition, management, and coloring of the piece, are all calculated for poetical effect. It begins with a delightful picture of Auburn when inhabited by a happy people. The view of the village itself, and the rural occupations and pastimes of its simple natives, is in the best style of painting, by a selection of characteristic circumstances. Is is immediately contrasted by a similar bold sketch of its ruined and desolated condition. Then succeeds an imaginary state of England, in a kind of golden age of equality ; with its contrast likewise. The apostrophe that follows, the personal complaint of the poet, and the portrait of a sage in retirement, are sweetly sentimental touches, that break the continuity of description.
He returns to Auburn, and having premised another masterly sketch of its two states, in which the images are chiefly drawn from sounds, he proceeds to what may be called the interior history of the village. In his first figure he has tried his strength with Dryder. The parish priest of that great poet, improved from Chaucer, is a portrait full of beauty, but drawn in a loose, unequal manner, with the flowing vein of digressive thought and imagery that stamps his style. Tłe
subject of the draught, too, is considerably Jifferent from that of GOLDSMITH, having more of the ascetic and mortified cast. in conformity to the saintly model of the Roman Catholic priesthood. The pastor of Auburn is more human, but is not on that account a less venerable and interesting figure; though I know not whether all will be pleased with his familiarity with vicious characters, which goes beyond the purpose of mere reformation. The description of him in his professional character is truly admirable ; and the similes of the bird instructing his young to fly, and the tall cliff rising above the storm, have been universally applauded. The first, I believe, is original ; -- the second is not so, though it has probably never been so well drawn and applied. The subsequent sketches of the village schoolmaster and alehouse, are close imitations of nature in low life, like the pictures of Teniers and Hogarth. Yet even these humorous scenes slide imperceptibly into sentiment and pathos; and the comparison of the simple pleasures of the poor, with the splendid festivities of the opulent, rises to the highest style of moral poetry. Who has not felt the force of that reflection,
"The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy?'
The writer then falls into a strain of reasoning against luxnry and superfluous wealth, in which the sober inquirer will find much serious truth, though mixed with poetical exaggeration. The description of the contrasted scenes of magnificence and misery in a great metropolis, closed by the pathetic figure of the forlorn, ruined female, is not to be surpassed.
Were not the subjects of GOLDSMITH's description so skilfully varied, the uniformity of manner, consisting in an enumeration of single circumstances, generally depicted in
single lines, might tire ; but, where is the reader who can avoid being hurried along by the swift current of imagery, when to such a passage as the last succeeds a landscape fraught with all the sublime terrors of the torrid zone ;-- and then, an exquisitely tender history-piece of the departure of the villagers : concluded with a group (slightly touched indeed) of allegorical personages ? A noble address to the Genius of Poetry, in which is compressed the moral of the whole, gives a dig. nified finishing to the work.
If we compare these two principal poems of GOLDSMITH, we may say, that the Traveller' is formed upon a more regular plan, has a higher purpose in view, more abounds in thought, and in the expression of moral and philosophical ideas; the Deserted Village' has more imagery, more variety, more pathos, more of the peculiar character of poetry. In the first, the moral and natural descriptions are more general and elevated ; in the second, they are more particular and interesting. Both are truly original productions; but the *Deserted Village' has less peculiarity, and indeed has given rise to imitations which may stand in some parallel with it; while the Traveller' remains an unique.
With regard to GOLDSMITI's other poems, a few remarks will suffice. The • Hermit,' printed in the same year with the Traveller,' has been a very popular piece, as might be expected of a tender tale prettily told. It is called a' Ballad,' but I think with no correct application of that term, which properly means a story related in language either naturally or affectedly rude and simple. It has been a sort of a fashion to admire these productions; yet in the really ancient ballads, for one stroke of beauty, there are pages of insipidity and vulgarity; and the imitations have been pleasing in pro