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l Authu Chwefreie
Tuis edition of Goldsmith's Works not only contains more pieces than any other, but is also the first in which his Works appear together exactly as their author left them.
Goldsmith was a careful corrector of his own writings; but it is remarkable that in not one of the many editions of his Poems (Mr. Bolton Corney's beautiful and most accurate volume excepted) does “ The Traveller” or “The Deserted Village” appear as finally corrected by their author. Nor is this defect confined to his Poetical Works alone; it extends, in some respects, to all his writings.
There are two editions of Goldsmith's Miscellaneous Works held in esteem—that of 1801, in four volumes, octavo, with which Bishop Percy had something to do; and that of 1837, also in four volumes, octavo, ostensibly edited by Mr. Prior, though really edited by the late Mr. Wright, who saw through the press the edition of Boswell's “Life of Johnson ” published in 1835.
The edition of 1801 is very incomplete—the text is not even tolerably accurate; the edition of 1837 contains many remarkable additions to the Works, but not only is the text throughout vicious, but the printer's errors are most numerous, and at times ludicrously absurd.
When I consented to undertake the labor of editing the Works of Goldsmith, I began to look about me for the editions of the several pieces published in the lifetime of their author. I had some, and those of importance, myself; the British Museum possessed a few (too few); Mr. Forster had others; but Mr. Corney had nearly all. With a liberality which the public will appreciate, both Mr. Corney and Mr. Forster allowed me to take away from their shelves such editions as I required, and thus afforded me every means and facility to make
book what an edition of a great author should, if possible, be like. This liberality I must attribute, in part, to a long friendship with both gentlemen (with Mr. Forster especially); but the public will, I feel assured, attribute such confidence and kindness as much to their admiration of Goldsmith as to their liking for his editor.
I am unwilling to condemn the edition of 1837 without affording some grounds for such a judgment. In the “ Essays," as reprinted by Mr. Wright, we are at a loss to discover what the author himself thought worthy of collection (Collecta revirescunt was his own motto); for in the apparent desire to present the text of each essay as it first appeared, papers are reprinted without their subsequent alterations, those minute touches which Goldsmith gave at all times with a master's hand
“Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit ”nay, doubtful essays (or essays assigned to Goldsmith on the belief of others) are made to appear in the same collection with essays about which there can be no doubt whatever. Every reader of Goldsmith will like to see, I feel assured, what Goldsmith thought worthy of reproduction, and to read in a distinct place by themselves the essays attributed to him by others, or which he did not deem deserving of preservation. In the present reprint will be found two essays which Goldsmith himself added to the second edition of his “ Essays," and which are not in the edition of 1837.
The first publication of Goldsmith was anonymous—the “Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning.” This is a characteristic work; but Goldsmith did not live to see the second edition of it issued; and the reprint, with its very material alterations, which appeared shortly after his death is not so illustrative of its author's mind as is the edition of 1759. Indeed, I doubt whether some of the alterations in the edition of 1774 are the alterations of Goldsmith. I have been careful to mark all the variations of any moment. Some are of importance to the due understanding of Goldsmith's career, and all contain useful lessons to the student of English prose. This labor had been very negligently executed in Mr. Wright's reprint.
“ The Bee,” an unsuccessful and short-lived periodical publication, wholly edited by Goldsmith, I have reprinted entire -Voltaire's letters excepted. After the discontinuance of the work, the papers were published in a small volume without the name of the author. When Goldsmith collected his “Essays,” he drew largely upon “ The Bee,” but he also pruned his redundancies with a skilful pen. By printing “The Bee” as it first appeared, and the volume of “ Essays” as finally corrected by their anthor, I have enabled the reader to trace the history of the author's mind; and, while true to bis sense, am thus, I hope, still truer to liis fame.
Of Goldsmith's four biographies, the best by far is his “ Life of Beau Nash.” It is written in an appropriately jaunty style, the author at every turn illustrating his subject in the happiest manner, and, even in thus doing perfect justice to it, revealing a quiet consciousness that the hero of his story was one hardly deserving much commemoration. The knowledge of life exhibited in this performance is greatly to be admired. It is written with care, and finished more through happiness than pains; though the pains were great, as any
one may see who will take the trouble to compare, as I have done, the two editions of 1762. But former editors have not troubled themselves with the second edition, and consequently have missed whole pages of new matter, with some excellent additional stories and verbal corrections, that betray the pen of the careful writer. I need not say that the text of my reprint is that of the second edition. The text of Mr. Wright has many inexplicable omissions even from the first edition.
I have also made room for the admission of a few select passages from Goldsmith's “ History of Animated Nature” – of all his hack labors for booksellers that which seems to have been written with the greatest good-will. The work contains many exquisite passages; and as it is not very probable that it will ever be reprinted in extenso, those passages in which the writer appears to the greatest advantage richly deserve to find a place in any edition of his writings. I would have introduced extracts from his other numerous compilations could I have found any that I could with equal propriety present in such fragments. I have, however, added one of the letters froin his “History of England,” as a specimen (and it is a good one) of his style in what was then a new kind of writing
The periodical contributions of Goldsmith to the Monthly Review and the Critical Review were first added to Goldsmith's Works in the edition of 1837, where they are mixed together as “Miscellaneous Criticisms” and “Poetical Criticisms.” I have thought fit to separate them, keeping the contributions to each Review apart, and in strict chronological order. My reasons for so doing are that the Monthly Review was edited by a bookseller and his wife, while the Critical Review was edited by an eminent author — by Smollett. Griffiths and his wife were in the habit of altering the con