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ture and man. It was his love of observation which gave zest to the roving life he began so early to indulge. His boyhood was passed in a constant succession of friendly visits. He was ever migrating from the house of one kinsman or friend to that of another; and on these oscasions, as well as when at home, he was silently but faithfully observing. The result is easily traced in his writings. Few authors, indeed, are so highly indebted to personal observation for their materials. It is well known that the original of the Vicar of Wakefield was his own father. Therein has he embodied in a charming manner his early recollections of his parent, and the picture is rendered still more complete in his papers on the “Man in Black.” The inimitable description, too, of the “ Village Schoolmaster," is drawn from the poet's early teacher; and the veteran who 6 shouldered his crutch and told how fields were won," had often shared the hospitality of his father's roof. The leading incident in “ She Stoops to Conquer," was his own adventure; and, there is little question, that, in the quaint tastes of Mr. Burchell, he aimed to exhibit many of his peculiar traits. But it is not alone in the leading characters of his novel, plays and poems, that we discover Goldsmith's observing power. It is equally discernible throughout his essays and desultory papers. Most of his illustrations are borrowed from personal experience, and his opinions are generally founded upon experiment. talent for fresh and vivid delineation, is ever most prominently displayed when he is describing what he actually witnessed, or drawing from the rich fund of his early impressions or subsequent adventures. No appeal to humor, curiosity, or imagination, was unheeded; and it is the blended pictures he contrived to combine from these cherished associations, that impart so lively an interest to his pages.
One moment we find him
noting, with philosophic sympathy, the pastimes of a foreign peasantry; and arother, studying the operations of a spider at his garret window, now busy in nomenclating the peculiarities of the Dutch, and anon, alluding to the exhibition of Cherokee Indians. The natural effect of this thirst for experimental knowledge, was to beget a love for foreign travel. Accordingly, we find that Goldsmith, after exhausting the narrow circle which his limited means could compass at home, projected a continental tour, and long cherished the hope of visiting the East. Indeed, we could scarcely have a stronger proof of his enthusiasm, than the long journey he undertook and actually accomplished on foot. The remembrance of his romantic wanderings over Holland, France, Germany, and Italy, imparts a singular interest to his writings. It was, indeed, worthy of a true poet that, enamored of nature and delighting in the observation of his species, he should thus manfully go forth, with no companion but his flute, and wander over these fair lands hallowed by past associations and existent beauty. A rich and happy era, despite its moments of discomfort, to such a spirit, was that year of solitary pilgrimage. Happy and proud must have been the imaginative pedestrian, as he reposed his weary frame in the peasant's cottage “beside the murmuring Loire ;" and happier still when he stood amid the green valleys of Switzerland, and looked around upon her snow-capt hills, hailed the old towers of Verona, or entered the gate of Florence the long-anticipated goals to which his weary footsteps had so patiently tended. If anything could enhance the pleasure of musing amid these scenes of poetic interest, it must have been the consciousness of having reached them by so gradual and self-denying a progress. There is, in truth, no more characteristic portion of Goldsmith's biography, than that which records this remarkable tour; and there are few more striking instances of the available worth of talent. Unlike the bards of old, he won not his way to shelter and hospitality by appealing to national feeling; for the lands through which he roamed were not his own, and the lay of the last minstrel had long since died away in oblivion. But he gained the ready kindness of the peasantry by playing the flute, as they danced in the intervals of toil; and won the favor of the learned by successful disputation at the convents and universities a method of rewarding talent which was extensively practised in Europe at that period. Thus, solely befriended by his wits, the roving poet rambled over the continent, and, notwithstanding the vicissitudes incident to so precarious a mode of seeing the world, to a mind like his, there was ample compersation in the superior opportunities for observation thus afforded. He mingled frankly with the people, and saw things as they were. The scenery which environed him flitted not before his
like the shifting scenes of a panorama, but became familiar to his eye under the changing aspects of time and season. Manners and customs he quietly studied, with the advantage of sufficient opportunity to institute just comparisons and draw fair infer
In short, Goldsmith was no tyro in the philosophy of travel; and, although the course he pursued was dictated by necessity, its superior results are abundantly evidenced throughout his works. We have, indeed, no formal narrative of his journeyings; but what is better, there is scarcely a page thrown off, to supply the pressing wants of the moment, which is not enriched by some pleasing reminiscence or sensible thought, garnered from the recollection and scenes of that long pilgrimage. Nor did he fail to embody the prominent impressions of so interesting an epoch of his checkered life, in a more en
during and beautiful form. The poem of “ The Traveller,” originally sketched in Switzerland, was subsequently revised and extended. It was the foundation of Goldsmith's poetical fame.
The subject evinces the taste of the author. The unpretending vein of enthusiasm which runs through it, is only equalled by the force and simplicity of the style. The rapid sketches of the several countries it presents, are vigorous and pleasing; and the reflections interspersed, abound with that truly humane spirit, and that deep sympathy with the good, the beautiful, and the true, which distinguishes the poet. This production may be regarded as the author's first deliberate attempt in the career of genius. It went through nine editions during his life, and its success contributed, in a great measure, to encourage and sustain him in future and less genial efforts.
The faults which are said to have deformed the character of Goldsmith, belong essentially to the class of foibles rather than absolute and positive errors. Recent biographers agree in the opinion, that his alleged devotion to play has either been grossly exaggerated, or was but a temporary mania ; and we should infer from his own allusion to the subject, that he had, with the flexibility of disposition that belonged to him, yielded only so far to its seductions as to learn from experience the supreme folly of the practice. It is at all events certain, that his means were too restricted, and his time, while in London, too much occupied, to allow of his enacting the part of a regular and professed gamester; and during the latter and most busy years of his life, we have the testimony of the members of the celebrated club to which he was attached, to the temperance and industry of his habits. Another, and in the eyes of the world, perhaps, greater weakness recorded of him, was a mawkish vanity, sometimes accompanied by jealousy of
more successful competitors for the honors of literature. Some anecdotes, illustrative of this unamiable trait, are preserved, which would amuse us, were they associated with less noble endowments or a more uninteresting character. As it is, however, not a few of them challenge credulity, from their utter want of harmony with certain dispositions which he is universally allowed to have possessed. But it is one of the greatest and most common errors in judging of character, to take an isolated and partial, instead of a broad and comprehensive view of the various qualities which go to form the man, and the peculiar circumstances that have influenced their development. Upon a candid retrospect of Goldsmith's life, it appears to us that the display of vanity, which in the view of many are so demeaning, may be easily and satisfactorily explained. Few men possess talent of any kind unconsciously. Ic seems designed by the Creator, that the very sense of capacity should urge genius to fulfil its mission, and
bort its early and lonely efforts by the earnest conviction of ultimate success. To beings thus endowed, the neglect and contumely of the world -- the want of sympathy -- the feeling of misappreciation, is often a keen sorrow felt precisely in proportion to the susceptibility of the individual, and expressed according as he is ingenuous and frank.
In the case of Goldsmith, his long and solitary struggle with poverty
his years of obscure toil his ill-success in every scheme for support, coupled as they were with an intuitive and deep consciousness of mental power and poetic gifts, were calculated to render him painfully alive to the superior consideration bestowed upon less deserving but more presumptuous men, and the unmerited and unjust disregard to his own claims. Weak it undoubtedly was, for him to give