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And scatter with a free, though frugal hand,
To turn the torrent's swift-descending flood, Light golden showers of plenty o'er the land; To brave the savage rushing from the wood, But tyranny has fixed her empire there,
What wonder, if to patient valour trained, To check their tender hopes with chilling fear, They guard with spirit what by strength they gained ! And blast the blooming promise of the year.
And while their rocky ramparts round they see, The spacious animated scene survey,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
Insult the plenty of the vales below!
What wonder, in the sultry climes that spread, How rude soe'er the exterior form we find,
Where Nile, redundant o'er his summer bed, Howe'er opinion tinge the varied mind,
From his broad bosom life and verdure flings, Alike to all the kind impartial Heaven
And broods o'er Egypt with his watery wings, The sparks of truth and happiness has given :
If with adventurous oar and ready sail,
The dusky people drive before the gale;
WILLIAM Mason, the friend and literary executor The social smile and sympathetic tear.
of Gray, long survived the connection which did him Say, then, through ages by what fate confined,
so much honour, but he appeared early as a poet. To ditferent climes seem different souls assigned ?
He was the son of the Rev. Mr Mason, vicar of St. Here measured laws and philosophic ease
Trinity, Yorkshire, where he was born in 1725. Fix and improve the polished arts of peace.
At Pembroke college, Cambridge, he became acThere industry and gain their vigils keep, Command the winds, and tame the unwilling deep.
quainted wiih Gray, who assisted him in obtaining Here force and hardy deeds of blood prevail ;
his degree of M.A. His first literary production There languid pleasure sighs in every gale.
was an attack on the Jacobitism of Oxford, to which
Thomas Warton replied in his • Triumph of Isis.' In Oft o'er the trembling nations from afar
1753 appeared his tragedy of Elfrida, 'written,' says Has Scythia breathed the living cloud of war; And, where the deluge burst, with sweepy sway,
Southey, on an artificial model, and in a gorgeous
diction, because he thought Shakspeare had preTheir arms, their kings, their gods were rolled
cluded all hope of excellence in any other form of away. As oft have issued, host impelling host,
drama.' The model of Mason was the Greek drama, The blue-eyed myriads from the Baltic coast,
and he introduced into nis play the classic accomThe prostrate south to the destroyer yields
paniment of the chorus. A second drama, CaractaHer boasted titles, and her golden fields ;
cus, is of a higher cast than Elfrida :' more noble With grim delight the brood of winter view
and spirited in language, and of more sustained A brighter day, and heavens of azure hue,
dignity in scenes, situations, and character. Mason Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
also wrote a series of odes on Independence, Memory, And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows.
Melancholy, and The Fall of Tyranny, in which his Proud of the yoke, and pliant to the rod,
gorgeousness of diction swells into extravagance
and bombast. Why yet does Asia dread a monarch's nod,
His other poetical works are his While European freedom still withstands
English Garden, a long descriptive poem in blank The encroaching tide that drowns her lessening lands, verse, extended over four books, and an ode on the And sees far oft, with an indignant groan,
Commemoration of the British Revolution, in which he Her native plains and empires once her own?
asserts those Whig principles which he steadfastly Can opener skies and suns of fiercer flame
maintained during the trying period of the AmeriO'erpower the fire that animates our frame;
As in his dramas Mason had made an in. As lamps, that shed at eve a cheerful ray,
novation on the established taste of the times, he Fade and expire beneath the eye of day?
ventured, with equal success, to depart from the Need we the influence of the northeru star
practice of English authors, in writing the life of To string our nerves and steel our hearts to war? his friend Gray. Instead of presenting a continuous And where the face of nature laughs around,
narrative, in which the biographer alone is visible, Must sickening virtue fly the tainted ground? he incorporated the journals and letters of the poet Unmanly thought! what seasons can control,
in chronological order, thus making the subject of What fancied zone can circumscribe the soul,
the memoir in some degree his own biographer, Who, conscious of the source from whence she springs, and enabling the reader to judge more fully and By reason's light, on resolution's wings,
correctly of his situation, thoughts, and feelingi. Spite of her frail companion, dauntless goes
The plan was afterwards adopted by Boswell in his O'er Lybia's deserts and through Zembla's snows?
Life of Johnson, and has been sanctioned by subseShe bids each slumbering energy awake,
quent usage, in all cases where the subject is of imAnother touch, another temper take,
portance enough to demand copious information and Suspends the inferior laws that rule our clay; minute personal details. The circumstances of The stubborn elements confess her sway;
Mason's life are soon related. After his career at Their little wants, their low desires, refine,
college, he entered into orders, and was appointed And raise the mortal to a height divine.
one of the royal chaplains. He held the living of Not but the human fabric from the birth
Ashton, and was precentor of York cathedral. Imbibes a flavour of its parent earth.
When politics ran high, he took an active part on As various tracts enforce a various toil,
the side of the Whigs, but was respected by all The manners speak the idiom of their soil.
parties. He died in 1797. An iron race the mountain cliffs maintain,
Mason's poetry cannot be said to be popular, evcu Foes to the gentle genius of the plain;
with poetical readers. His greatest want is simpliFor where unwearied sinews must be found,
city, yet at times his rich diction has a fine effect. With side-long plough to quell the flinty ground, In his ‘English Garden,' though verbose and lan
guid as a whole, there are some exquisite images.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, whose writings range over Has mouldered into beauty many a tower
every department of miscellaneous literature, chalWhich, when it frowned with all its battlements,
lenges attention as a poet chiefly for the unaffected Was only terrible.
ease, grace, and tenderness of his descriptions of rural
and domestic life, and for a certain vein of pensive Of woodland scenery
philosophic reflection. His countryman Burke said Many a glade is found
of himself, that he had taken his ideas of liberty not The haunt of wood-gods only ; where, if art
too high, that they might last him through life. E’er dared to tread, 'twas with unsandaled foot, Goldsmith seems to have pitched his poetry in a Printless, as if 'twere holy ground.
subdued under tone, that he might luxuriate at will Gray quotes the following lines in one of Mason's among those images of quiet beauty, comfort, bene
volence, and simple pathos, that were most congenial odes as 'superlative:'
to his own character, his hopes, or his experience. While through the west, where sinks the crimson day, This popular poet was born at Pallas, a small village Meek twilight slowly sails, and waves her banners gray. in the parish of Forney, county of Longford, Ireland,
on the 10th of November 1728. He was the sixth [From Caractacus.]
of a family of nine children, and his father, the Rev. Mona on Snowdon calls :
Charles Goldsmith, was a poor curate, who eked Hear, thou king of mountains, hear;
out the scanty funds which he derived from his proHark, she speaks from all her strings :
fession, by renting and cultivating some land. The Hark, her loudest echo rings ;
poet's father afterwards succeeded to the rectory of King of mountains, bend thine ear:
Kilkenny West, and removed to the house and farm Send thy spirits, send them soon,
Now, when midnight and the moon Meet upon thy front of snow;
See, their gold and ebon rod,
Where the sober sisters nod,
Snowdon has heard the strain :
Other harpings answer clear,
Other voices meet our ear, Pinions flutter, shadows move,
Busy murmurs hum around,
Rustling vestments brush the ground; Round and round, and round they go,
Through the twilight, through the shade,
Mount the oak's majestic head,
Ruins of the house at Lissoy, where Goldsmith spent
his youth. Epitaph on Mrs Mason, in the Cathedral of Bristol. youth was spent, and here he found the materials
of Lissoy, in his former parish. Here Goldsmith's Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear: for his Deserted Village. After a good country edu
Take that best gift which heaven so lately gave: cation, Oliver was admitted a sizer of Trinity college, To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care Dublin, June 11, 1745. The expense of his education
Her faded form ; she bowed to taste the wave, was chiefly defrayed by his uncle, the Rev. Thomas And died ! Does youth, does beauty, read the line ? Contarini, an excellent man, son to an Italian of the
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm? Contarini family at Venice, and a clergyman of the Speak, dead Maria ! breathe a strain divine; established church. At college, the poet was
Even from the grave thou shalt have power to charm. thoughtless and irregular, and always in want. His Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
tutor was a man of fierce and brutal passions, and Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move ; having struck him on one occasion before a party And if so fair, from vanity as free;
of friends, the poet left college, and wandered about As firm in friendship, and as fond in love. the country for some time in the utmost poverty. Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die, His brother Henry clothed and carried him back to
('Twas even to thee) yet the dread path once trod, college, and on the 27th of February 1749, he was Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,
admitted to the degree of B.A. Goldsmith now And bids 'tue pure in heart behold their God.' gladly left the university, and returned to Lissoy.
His father was dead, but he idled away two years of the day. In 1758 he presented himself at among his relations. He afterwards became tutor Surgeons Hall for examination as an hospital in the family of a gentleman in Ireland, where he mate, with the view of entering the army or navy remained a year. His uncle then gave him £50 to but he had the mortification of being rejectcc study the law in Dublin, but he lost the whole in a as unqualified. That he might appear before gaming house. A second contribution was raised, the examining surgeon suitably dressed, Goldsmith and the poet next proceeded to Edinburgh, where obtained a new suit of clothes, for which Griffiths, he continued a year and a-half studying medi- publisher of the Monthly Review, became security. cine. He then drew upon his uncle for £20, and The clothes were immediately to be returned when embarked for Bordeaux. The vessel was driven the purpose was served, or the debt was to be into Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and whilst there, Gold- discharged. Poor Goldsmith, having failed in his smith and his fellow passengers were arrested and object, and probably distressed by urgent want, put into prison, where the poet was kept a fortnight. pawned the clothes. The publisher threatened, and It appeared that his companions were Scotsmen, in the poet replied—“I know of no misery but a gaol, the French service, and had been in Scotland enlist- to which my own imprudences and your letter ing soldiers for the French army. Having over- seem to point. I have seen it inevitable these come this most innocent of all his misfortunes, he is three or four weeks, and, by heavens! request it as represented as having immediately proceeded to a favour--as a favour that may prevent somewhat Leyden; but this part of his biography has lately more fatal. I have been some years struggling with got a new turn from the inquiries of a gentleman a wretched being-with all that contempt and indiwhose book is quoted below,* according to which it gence brings with it--with all those strong passions would appear to have been now, instead of four years which make contempt insupportable. What, then,
later, that Goldsmith acted as usher of Dr Milner's ( has a gaol that is formidable?' Such was the almost ! school at Peckham, in the neighbourhood of London. hopeless condition, the deep despair, of this im
The tradition of the school is, that he was ex- prudent but amiable author, who has added to the tremely good-natured and playful, and advanced delight of millions, and to the glory of English his pupils more by conversation than by book-tasks. literature. On the supposition of this being the true account of Henceforward the life of Goldsmith was that of a Goldsmith's 25th year, we may presume that he man of letters. He lived solely by his pen. Besides next went to Leyden, and there made the resolution numerous contributions to the Monthly and Critical to travel over the Continent in spite of all pecuniary Reviews, the Lady's Magazine, the British Magadeficiencies. He stopped some time at Louvain, in zine, &c., he published an Inquiry into the Present Flanders, at Antwerp, and at Brussels. In France, State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759), his admirhe is said, like George Primrose, in his Vicar of able Chinese Letters, afterwards published with the Wakefield, to have occasionally earned a night's title of The Citizen of the World, a Life of Beau Nash, lodging and food by playing on his flute.
and the History of England in a series of letters from
a nobleman to his son. The latter was highly sucHow often have I led thy sportive choir,
cessful, and was popularly attributed to Lord ChesWith tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire !
terfield. In December 1764 appeared his poem of Where shading elms along the margin grew,
The Traveller, the chief corner-stone of his fame, And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew;
• without one bad line,' as has been said; without And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still,
one of Dryden's careless verses.' Charles Fox proBut roocked all tune, and marred the dancer's skill,
nounced it one of the finest poems in the English Yet would the village praise my wondrous power,
language ; and Dr Johnson (then numbered among And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour.
Goldsmith's friends) said that the merit of “The
Traveller' was so well established, that Mr Fox's Scenes of this kind formed an appropriate school praise could not augment it, nor his censure diminish for the poet. He brooded with delight over these it. The periodical critics were unanimous in its pictures of humble primitive happiness, and his praise. In 1766 he published his exquisite novel, imagination loved to invest them with the charms of The Vicar of Wakefield, which had been written two poetry. Goldsmith afterwards visited Germany years before, and sold to Newberry the bookseller, and the Rhine. From Switzerland he sent the first to discharge a pressing debt. His comedy of The sketch of the Traveller' to his brother. The loftier Good-Natured Man was produced in 1767, his Roman charms of nature in these Alpine scenes seems to History next year, and The Deserted Village in 1770. have had no permanent effect on the character or The latter was as popular as “The Traveller,' and direction of his genius. He visited Florence, Verona, speedily ran through a number of editions. In 1773, Venice, and stopped at Padua some months, where Goldsmith's comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, was he is supposed to have taken his medical degree. In brought out at Covent Garden theatre with inimense 1756 the poet reached England, after two years of applause. He was now at the summit of his fame wandering, lonely, and in poverty, yet buoyed up and popularity. The march had been long and toilby dreams of hope and fame. Many a hard struggle some, and he was often nearly fainting by the way; he had yet to encounter! His biographers repre- but his success was at length complete. His name sent him as now becoming usher at Dr Milner's stood among the foremost of his contemporaries; his school, a portion of his history which we have seen works brought him in from £1000 to £1800 per anreason to place at an earlier period. However this num. Difficulty and distress, however, still clung may be, he is soon after found contributing to the to him: poetry had found him poor at first, and she Monthly Review. He was also some time assistant kept him so. From heedless profusion and extravato a chemist. A college friend, Dr Sleigh, enabled gance, chiefly in dress, and from a benevolence which him to commence practice as a humble physician knew no limit while his funds lasted, Goldsmith was in Bankside, Southwark; but his chief support scarcely ever free from debt. The gaming table also arose from contributions to the periodical literature presented irresistible attractions. He hung loosely
on society, without wife or domestic tie; and his • Collections Illustrative of the Geology, History, Anti- early habits and experience were ill calculated to quities, and Associations of Camberwell. By Douglas Allport. teach him strict conscientiousness or regularity. He Camberwell: 1841
continued to write task-work for the booksellers,
and produced a “ History of England' in four volumes. heightening the effect of his pictures. In the fol. This was succeeded by a ‘History of Greece' in two lowing quotation, the rich scenery of Italy, and the volumes, for which he was paid £250. He had con- effeminate character of its population, are placed in tracted to write a · History of Animated Nature' in striking juxtaposition with the rugged mountains of eight volumes, at the rate of a hundred guineas for Switzerland and their hardy natives. each volume; but this work he did not live to complete, though the greater part was finished in his
[Italians and Swiss Contrasted.] own attractive and easy manner. In March 1774, he was attacked by a painful complaint (dysuria) Far to the right, where Apennine ascends, caused by close study, which was succeeded by a Bright as the summer, Italy extends ; nervous fever. Contrary to the advice of his apo- Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side, thecary, he persisted in the use of James's powders, Woods over woods in gay theatric pride; a medicine to which he had often had recourse; and While oft some temple’s mouldering tops between, gradually getting worse, he expired in strong con- With venerable grandeur inark the scene. vulsions on the 4th of April. The death of so popu- Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast, lar an author, at the age of forty-five, was a shock The sons of Italy were surely blest. equally to his friends and the public. The former Whatever fruits in different climes were found, knew his sterling worth, and loved him with all his That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; foibles—his undisguised vanity, his national prone - Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, ness to blundering, his thoughtless extravagance, his Whose bright succession decks the varied year; credulity, and his frequent absurdities. Under these Whatever sweets salute the northern sky ran a current of generous benevolence, of enlightened With vernal lives, that blossom but to die; zeal for the happiness and improvement of mankind, These, here disporting, own the kindred soil
, and of manly independent feeling. He died £2000 Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil; in debt: Was ever poet so trusted before!' ex
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand, claimed Johnson. His remains were interred in the To winnow fragrance round the smiling land. Temple burying ground, and a monument erected to
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, his memory in Westminster Abbey, next the grave And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. of Gay, whom he somewhat resembled in character, Man seems the only growth that dwindles here.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear, and far surpassed in genius.
The plan of The Traveller' is simple, yet compre- Contrasted faults through all his manners reign: hensive and philosophical. The poet represents him. Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain; self as sitting among Alpine solitudes, looking down Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue; on a hundred realms
And even in penance planning sins anew.
All evils here contaminate the mind, Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide, That opulence departed leaves behind;
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride. For wealth was theirs,' not far removed the date, He views the whole with delight, yet sighs to think When cominerce proudly flourished through the state; that the hoard of human bliss is so small, and he At her command the palace learned to rise, wishes to find some spot consigned to real happiness, Again the long-fallen column sought the skies ; where his worn soul
The canvass glowed beyond even nature warm,
The pregnant quarry teemed with human form, Might gather bliss to see his fellows blessed.
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale, But where is such a spot to be found? The natives Commerce on other shores displayed her sail ; of each country think their own the best-the pa- While nought remained of all that riches gave, triot boasts
But towns unmanned, and lords without a slave; His first, best country, ever is at home.
And late the nation found with fruitless skill,
Its former strength was but plethoric ill. If nations are compared, the amount of happiness in Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied each is found to be about the same; and to illustrate By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride; this position, the poet describes the state of manners From these the feeble heart and long-fallen inind and government in Italy, Switzerland, France, Hol- An easy compensation seem to find. land, and England. In general correctness and | Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp arrayed, beauty of expression, these sketches have never been The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade; surpassed. The politician may think that the poet Processions formed for piety and love, ascribes too little importance to the influence of A mistress or a saint in every grove.
1 government on the happiness of mankind, seeing By sports like these are all their cares beguiled, that in a despotic state the whole must depend on The sports of children satisfy the child ; the individual character of the governor; yet in the Each nobler aim, repressed by long control, cases cited by Goldsmith, it is difficult to resist his Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul; conclusions; while his short sententious reasoning While low delights, succeeding fast behind, is relieved and elevated by bursts of true poetry. In happier meanness occupy the mind; His character of the men of England used to draw As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway, tears from Dr Johnson :
Defaced by time and tottering in decay, Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead, With daring aims irregularly great.
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed ; Pride in their port, detiance in their eye,
And, wondering man could want the larger pile, I see the lords of human kind pass hy;
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile. Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
My soul turn from thein, turn we to survey By forms unfashioned, fresh from nature's hand.
Where rougher climes a nobler race display, Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread, True to imagined right, above control,
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread; While even the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
No product here the barren hills afford, And learns to venerate himself as man.
But man and steel, the soldier and his sword;
No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array, Goldsmith was a master of the art of contrast in But winter lingering chills the lap of May;