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The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Near yonder thorn that lifts its head on high,
Vain, transitory splend ir! could not all
Yes ! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
Oliver Goldsmith, the author of the above extract, is one whose writings range over every department of miscellaneous literature. His merits are so generally acknowledged, and his fame so well established, that they can neither be augmented by praise nor diminished by censure. His essays and historical works constitute a treasure. His writings are characterized by ease, grace, and beauty of description, and for a vein of pensive philosophical reflection which runs through them. His poems are not, it is true, written in that attractive, transcendental style of some poets of the present time, whose wonderfully gorgeous and powerful imaginations tower far above and soar beyond untrodden heights. Goldsmith never soars beyond Apollo's ken. As a poet, he sits down among common men, talks common sense, and uses clear and vigorous language. The plan of his poems, the choice and arrangement of his words, the vivacity of his language, possess a charm beyond the scope of criticism.
39. The Story of a Disabled Soldier.
I was born in Shropshire, My father was a laborer, and died when I was five years old; so I was put upon the parish. As he had been a wandering sort of a man, the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged, or where I was born; so they sent me to another parish, and that parish sent me to a third. I thought in my heart
they kept sending me about so long — that they would not let me be born in any parish at all; but at last, however, they fixed me. I had some disposition to be a scholar, and was resolved, at least, to know my letters; but the master of the work house put me to business as soon as I was able to handle a mallet; and here I lived an easy kind of life for five years. I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labor.
It is true, I was not suffered to stir out of the house, for fear, as they said, I should run away. But what of that? I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door; and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and late ; but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myself: so I was resolved to go and seek my fortune.
In this manner, I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none, when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of peace, I spied a hare crossing the path just before me. I flung my stick at it. Well, what will you have on't? I killed the hare, and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me; he called me a poacher, and a villain; and collaring me, desired I would give an account of myself. I fell upon my knees, begged his worship’s pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my history; but though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account; so I was indicted at Sessions found guilty of being poor, and sent up to London, to Newgate, in order to be transported as a vagabond.
People may say this and that of being in jail, but for my part, I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in in all my life. I had plenty to eat and drink, and did no work at all. This kind of life was too good to last forever;
Workhouse, almshouse. — Poacher, one who steals game. meeting of justices of the peace, a court for trials.
I was taken out of prison after five months, put on board a ship, and sent off with two hundred more to the plantations. We had but an indifferent passage, for, being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air ; and those that remained were sickly enough. When we came ashore, we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more.
As I was no scholar,- for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I served out my time, as in duty bound to do. When
my time had expired, I worked my passage home; and glad I was to see Old England again, because I loved my country. I was afraid; however, that I should be indicted for a vagabond once more; so did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobs, when I could get them.
I was very happy in this manner for some time, till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down, and then desired me to stand. They belonged to a press-gang. I was carried before the justice, and, as I could give no account of myself, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man-of-war, or list for a soldier. I chose the latter; and in this post of a gentleman I served two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy; and received but one wound, through the breast here; but the doctor of our regiment soon made me well again. When the peace came on,
I was discharged; and as I could not work, because my wound was sometimes troublesome, I listed for a landsman, in the East India Company's service. I have fought the French in six pitched battles; and I verily believe that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion ; for I soon fell sick, and so got leave to return home again, with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the war, and I hoped to be set on shore, and to have the pleasure of spend
Campaign, the portion of the year during which au army is in the field.