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Goldsmith's career began in misfortunes, and the greater
part of his life was overshadowed by poverty. A simple man in the affairs of the world, his imprudences brought with them the meed of vices. But even in indigence he was dear to those who know how to honour talents; and his exquisite good nature attached to him even those who might have hated him for his wit. The Traveller, and Deserted Village will to many eyes present serious
truths, to many, the speculations only of a man of genius, He died in 1774, in the possession of such honours as the
friendship of men, high in rank, and abilities could bestow upon him.
From “ The Traveller."
* * * * * * * * Fired at the sound, my genius spreads her wing, And Aies where Britain courts the western spring;
Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride,
And brighter streams than famed Hydaspes glide,
There all around the gentlest breezes stray,
There gentle musick melts on every spray ;
Creation's mildest charms are there combined,
Extremes are only in the master's mind !
Stern o'er each bosom Reason holds her state,
With daring aims irregularly great;
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by;
Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
By forms unfashion’d fresh from naturc's hand;
Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
True to imagined right above controul,
While even the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictured here,
Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear;
Too blest indeed, were such without alloy ;
But foster'd even by freedom, ills annoy ;
That independence Britons prize too high,
Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;
The self-dependent lordling stands alone,
All claims that bind, and sweeten life unknown;
Here by the bonds of nature feebly held,
Minds combat minds, repelling and repell’d.
Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar,
Represt ambition struggles round her shore,
Till over-wrought, the general system feels
Its motion stop, or frenzy fire the wheels.
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,
As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.
Hence all obedience bows to these alone,
And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown;
Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms,
The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms,
Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame,
Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame,
One sink of level avarice shall lie,
And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'd, die.
* * * * * * *
From “ The Deserted Village."
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay,
Princes and lords may florish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made; -
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy'd, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintained its man;
For hiin light labour spread her wholesome store;
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain ;
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumberous pomps repose;
And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful
Lived in each look, and brighten'd all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey .
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
'Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land,
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting Folly hails them from þer shore;
Hoards, even beyond the niser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name
That leaves our useful product still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride,
Takes up a space that many poor supplyed ;
Space for his lake, his park’s extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage and hounds ;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken cloth,
Has robbd the neighbouring fields of half their
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies,
While thus the land adorned for pleasure all,
In barren splendor feebly waits its fall.