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More genuine transports found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd, she watch'd the tapers of the dead;
Or through the pillar'd aisles, amid pale sarines
Of imag'd saints, and intermingled graves,
Mus'd a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As through the mazes of the festive ball,
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze, Th' uncertain step along the midnight mead,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of th' assembled fair.
Ye youths of Albion's beauty-blooming isle,
Whose brows have worn the wreath of luckless love
Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood,
Whose magic wont to soothe your soften'd souls?
O tell how rapturous the joy, to melt
To Melody's assuasive voice; to bend
And pour your sorrows to the pitying Moon,
By many a slow trill from the bird of woe
Oft interrupted; in embow'ring woods
By darksome brook to muse, and there forget
The solemn dullness of the tedious world,
While Fancy grasps the visionary fair:
And now no more th' abstracted ear attends
The water's murm'ring lapse, th' entranced eye
Pierces no longer through th' extended rows
Of thick-rang'd trees; till haply from the depth
The woodman's stroke, or distant tinkling team,
Or heifers rustling through the brake, alarms
Th' illuded sense, and mars the golden dream.
These are delights that absence drear has made
Familiar to my soul, e'er since the form
Of young Sapphira, beauteous as the Spring,
When from her vi'let-woven couch awak'd
By frolic Zephyr's hand, her tender cheek
Graceful she lifts, and blushing from her bow'r
Issues to clothe in gladsome-glistering green
The genial globe, first met my dazzled sight:
These are delights unknown to minds profane,
And which alone the pensive soul can taste.
When azure noontide cheers the dædal globe,
And the blest regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian tower,
How oft my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind!
Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song!
Sister of ebon-sceptred Hecate, hail!
Whether in congregated clouds thou wrapp'st
Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown
Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail!
What though beneath thy gloom the sorceress-strain,
Far in obscured haunt of Lapland moors,
With rhymes uncouth the bloody caldron bless;
Though Murder wan beneath thy shrouding shade
Summons her slow-ey'd vot'ries to devise
Of secret slaughter, while by one blue lamp
In hideous conference sits the list'ning band,
And start at each low wind, or wakeful sound:
What though thy stay the pilgrim curseth oft,
As all benighted in Arabian wastes
He hears the wilderness around him howl
With roaming monsters, while on his hoar head
The black-descending tempest ceaseless beats;
Yet more delightful to my pensive mind
Is thy return, than blooming Morn's approach,
Ev'n than, in youthful pride of opening May,
When from the portals of the saffron east
She sheds fresh roses, and ambrosial dews.
Yet not ungrateful is the Morn's approach,
When dropping wet she comes, and clad in clouds,
While through the damp air scowls the lowering
Blackening the landscape's face, that grove and hill
In formless vapors undistinguish'd swim:
Th' afflicted songsters of the sadden'd groves
Hail not the sullen gloom : the waving elms
That, hoar through time and rang'd in thick array,
Inclose with stately row some rural hall,
Are mute, nor echo with the clamors hoarse
Of rooks rejoicing on their airy boughs;
While to the shed the dripping poultry crowd,
A mournful train: secure the village-hind
Hangs o'er the crackling blaze, nor tempts the storm;
Fix'd in th' unfinish'd furrow rests the plow:
Rings not the high wood with enliven'd shouts
Of early hunter: all is silence drear;
And deepest sadness wraps the face of things.
Through Pope's soft song though all the Graces
And happiest art adorn his Attic page;
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
As at the root of mossy trunk reclin'd,
In magic Spenser's wildly-warbled song
I see deserted Una wander wide
Through wasteful solitudes, and lurid heaths,
Weary, forlorn; than when the fated fair
Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames
Launches in all the lustre of brocade,
Amid the splendors of the laughing Sun.
The gay description palls upon the sense,
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
The taper'd choir, at the late hour of pray'r,
Oft let me tread, while to th' according voice
The many-sounding organ peals on high,
The clear slow-dittied chant, or varied hymn
Till all my soul is bathed in ecstasies,
And lapp'd in paradise. Or let me sit
Far in sequester'd aisles of the deep dome,
There lonesome listen to the sacred sounds,
Which, as they lengthen through the Gothic vaults,
In hollow murmurs reach my ravish'd ear.
Nor when the lamps expiring yield to night,
And solitude returns, would I forsake
The solemn mansion, but attentive mark
The due clock swinging slow with sweepy sway
Measuring time's flight with momentary sound.
Nor let me fail to cultivate my mind
With the soft thrillings of the tragic Muse,
Divine Melpomene, sweet Pity's nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall.
Now let Monimia mourn with streaming eyes
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love;
Now let soft Juliet in the gaping tomb
Print the last kiss on her true Romeo's lips,
His lips yet reeking from the deadly draught:
Or Jaffier kneel for one forgiving look.
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemone
Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage.
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals
From my swoln eyes; and at a brother's woe
My big heart melts in sympathizing tears.
What are the splendors of the gaudy court,
Its tinsel trappings, and its pageant pomps?
To me far happier seems the banish'd lord,
Amid Siberia's unrejoicing wilds,
Who pines all lonesome, in the chambers hoar
Of some high castle shut, whose windows dim
In distant ken discover trackless plains,
Where Winter ever whirls his icy car!
While still repeated objects of his view,
The gloomy battlements, and ivied spires,
That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev'n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent satrap, whom he left behind
'Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouse with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherds from Hymettus' brow,
What dædal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th' unfading olive lifts: here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow'rs.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene;
Yet feels the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mould'ring obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreathes her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence! a blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces
Where, with his brother Horror, Ruin sits
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought
O come with saintly look, and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yea
Where ever to the curfew's solemn sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyné beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron-bow'r
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though 'tis hers to calm the low'ring skies,
And at her presence mild th' embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of Heav'n
New day diffusive gleam at her approach?
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier far;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail! From thee began, auspicious maid, my song, With thee shall end; for thou art fairer far Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot; To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought Than all the fabling poet's boasted pow'rs. Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells, Once in his evening walk a Druid found, Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods; And piteous bore with hospitable hand To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r. There soon the sage admiring mark'd the dawn Of solemn musing in your pensive thought, For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH was born at Pallas, county of Longford, Ireland, November 10, 1728. His father was a poor curate who, about two years after Oliver's birth, succeeded to a rectory and removed to Lissoy, county of Westmeath, where he cultivated a farm of seventy acres. Here the boyhood of the poet was passed, and Lissoy is generally supposed to be the scene of his most popular poem.
Goldsmith's education began at the age of three, in the little school of Mistress Elizabeth Delap, who pronounced him one of the dullest boys she had ever dealt with, but of course boasted in her old age that it was she who first put a book into the hands of the famous poet. At six he was advanced to the village school, kept by a returned soldier commonly called Paddy Byrne, whose portrait is preserved in the schoolmaster of the "Deserted 'Village." This fellow used to entertain his pupils with endless narratives of his adventures in foreign lands, and with numberless Irish fairy stories. He was also a poetaster, and from him Goldsmith caught the trick of versification which, in the hands of the genius, grew into the divine art of poetry. Some of his rhymes reached his mother, who recognized their promise and at once determined that he should have a liberal education. Her eldest son, Henry, had been sent to college, and the intention was to put Oliver to a trade. The poverty of the family made it difficult to do otherwise; but the mother's counsel prevailed, and the boy was sent to school at Elphin,, county of Roscommon. Here, at the age of nine, he made his earliest rhyme which has been preserved. He attended a dancing-party at his uncle's house, and his clumsy figure and face pitted with small-pox made the fiddler quite merry, who called Goldsmith his little sop. The boy stopped dancing and replied: "Our herald hath proclaimed this saying: See Esop dancing, and his monkey playing." This was considered such a wonderful evidence of genius that his relatives, particularly his uncle, resolved to contribute to the expense of his education. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1745, but was an unpromising student, got into various difficulties, and finally left college, wandered aimlessly to Cork, and was reduced to utter destitution. His brother brought him back, and he took his degree in 1749, graduating at the foot of his class.
At the request of his uncle, Goldsmith became a candidate for holy orders; but the bishop rejected him. He was then sent, with £50 in his pocket, to Dublin, to study law; but quickly lost the money at the gaming-table.
Then, with a fresh supply, he was sent to Edinburgh, to study medicine. He remained there eighteen months, when without taking a degree he went to Leyden, frequented the gamblinghouses, and from there wandered about on foot through several countries, picking up a living by playing the flute. He graduated in medicine at Padua, and returned to England to practise. Of course he failed in this, and then he became usher in a school at Peckham. At the same time he wrote for the "Monthly Review," and was befriended by its editor.
Goldsmith's first separate publication was "An Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe," 1759. The next year he contributed to the "Public Ledger" his "Chinese Letters," which were afterward published in book form as the "Citizen of the World." He wrote a life of Beau Nash and a history of England, and in 1761 made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, who became his best and most useful friend.
"The Traveller" was published in 1764, and Goldsmith was at once recognized as a genuine poet. Nearly two years before this he had written the "Vicar of Wakefield," which Johnson had sold for £60 to a bookseller, who so little appreciated it that he let the manuscript lie in his desk until after "The Traveller" appeared. The success of this novel, in which Goldsmith is believed to have drawn largely from his own experience and family historyhis father being the Vicar, and himself Moseswas immediate, and it will probably remain a classic as long as the language endures. His comedy of "The Good-Natured Man" appeared in 1767, "The Deserted Village" in 1770, and "She Stoops to Conquer," which is still a standard drama, in 1773.
OR, A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.
REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po;
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor
Against the houseless stranger shuts the door;
Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,
A weary waste expanding to the skies;
Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
My heart, untravel'd, fondly turns to thee:
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a length'ning chain.
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend;
Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil, and trim their ev'ning fire;
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,
And ev'ry stranger finds a ready chair;
Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd,
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale;
Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury of doing good.
But me, not destin'd such delights to share,
My prime of life in wand'ring spent and care;
Impell'd with steps unceasing to pursue
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view;
That, like the circle bounding earth and skies,
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies;
My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,
And find no spot of all the world my own.
Ev'n now, where Alpine solitudes ascend,
I sit me down a pensive hour to spend;
And, plac'd on high above the storm's career,
Look downward where an hundred realms appear;
Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide,
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
When thus creation's charms around combine,
Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine?
Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
That good which makes each humbler bosom vain?
Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
These little things are great to little man;
And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
Exults in all the good of all mankind.
Ye glitt'ring towns, with wealth and splendor
Ye fields, where summer spreads profusion round,
Ye lakes, whose vessels catch the busy gale,
Ye bending swains, that dress the flow'ry vale,
For me your tributary stores combine;
Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine.
As some lone miser, visiting his store,
Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er,
Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill,
Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still;
Thus to my breast alternate passions rise,
Pleas'd with each good that Heav'u to man supplies;
Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall,
To see the hoard of human bliss so small;
And oft I wish, amidst the scene to find
Some spot to real happiness consign'd,
Where my worn soul, each wand'ring hope at rest, All evils here contaminate the mind,
May gather bliss, to see my fellows blest.
But where to find that happiest spot below, Who can direct, when all pretend to know? The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone Boldly proclaims that happies. spot his own;
Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
And his long nights of revelry and ease:
The naked Negro, panting at the Line,
Boasts of his golden sands, and palmy wine,
Basks in the glare or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.
Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam,
His first, best country, ever is at home.
And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,
And estimate the blessings which they share,
Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find
An equal portion dealt to all mankind:
As diff'rent good, by Art or Nature giv'n
To diff'rent nations, makes their blessings ev'n.
Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
Still grants her bliss at labor's earnest call;
With food as well the peasant is supplied
On Idra's cliff as Arno's shelvy side;
And though the rocky-crested summits frown,
These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
From art more various are the blessings sent;
Wealth, commerce, honor, liberty, content:
Yet these each other's pow'r so strong contest,
That either seems destructive of the rest.
Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails
And honor sinks where commerce long prevails.
Hence every state, to one lov'd blessing prone,
Conforms and models life to that alone:
Each to the favorite happiness attends,
And spurns the plan that aims at other ends;
Till, carried to excess in each domain,
This fav'rite good begets peculiar pain.
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
And trace them through the prospect as it lies
Here for a while, my proper cares resign'd,
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;
Like yon neglected shrub, at random cast,
That shades the steep, and sighs at ev'ry blast
Far to the right, where Apennine ascends,
Bright as the summer, Italy extends :
Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,
Woods over woods in gay theatric pride;
While oft some temple's mould'ring tops between
With memorable grandeur mark the scene.
Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
The sons of Italy were surely blest.
Whatever fruits in diff'rent climes are found,
That proudly rise or humbly court the ground,
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year;
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky
With vernal lives, that blossom but to die;
These here disporting own the kindred soil,
Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil;
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand
To winnow fragrance round the smiling land.
But small the bliss that sense alone bestow?,
And sensua. bliss is all the nation knows.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear,
Man seems the only growth that dwindles here.
Contrasted faults through all his manners reign
Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain :
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;
And ev'n in penance planning sins anew
That opulence departed leaves behind;
For wealth was theirs; not far remov'd the date,
When commerce proudly flourish'd thro' the state,
At her command the palace learnt to rise,
Again the long-fall'n column sought the skies:
The canvass glow'd, beyond e'en Nature warm,
The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form:
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale,
Commerce on other shores display'd her sail;
While nought remain'd of all that riches gave,
But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave:
And late the nation found, with fruitless skill,
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.
Yet still the loss of wealth is here supplied
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride;
From these the feeble heart and long-fall'n mind
An easy compensation seem to find.
Such are the charms to barren states assign'd
Their wants but few, their wishes all confin'd:
Yet let them only share the praises due,
If few their wants, their pleasures are but few,
For ev'ry want that stimulates the breast
Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest:
Whence from such lands each pleasing science flies
That first excites desire, and then supplies;
Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy,
To fill the languid pause with finer joy;
Unknown those pow'rs that raise the soul to flame,
Catch ev'ry nerve, and vibrate through the frame.
Their level life is but a mould'ring fire,
Unquench'd by want, unfann'd by strong desire;
Unfit for raptures, or, if raptures cheer
On some high festival of once a year,
In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire,
Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire.
But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow;
Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low;
For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
Unalter'd, unimprov'd, the manners run;
And love's and friendship's finely-pointed dart
Falls blunted from each indurated heart.
Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast
May sit, like falcons cow'ring on the nest:
But all the gentler morals, such as play
Thro' life's more cultur'd walks, and charm the way
These, far dispers'd, on tim'rous pinions fly,
To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.
To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
I turn; and France displays her bright domain:
Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please
How often have I led thy sportive choir,
With tuneless pipe, beside the murm'ring Loire !
Where shading elms along the margin grew,
And freshen'd from the wave the zephyr flew :
Yet still, e'en here, content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.
Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts tho' small, And haply, though my harsh touch, falt'ring still,
He sees his little lot the lot of all;
But mock'd all tune, and marr'd the dancers' skili
Yet would the village praise my wond'rous pow'r
And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour.
Alike all ages. Dames of ancient days
Have led their children thro' the mirthful maze:
And the gay grandsire, skill'd in gestic lore,
Has frisk'd beneath the burthen of threescore.
So blest a life these thoughtless realms display,
Thus idly busy rolls their world away:
Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,
For honor forms the social temper here:
Honor, that praise which real merit gains,
Or e'en imaginary worth obtains,
Here passes current; paid from hand to hand,
It shifts, in splendid traffic, round the land.
From courts, to camps, to cottages it strays,
And all are taught an avarice of praise;
They please, are pleas'd, they give to get esteem,
Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem
But while this softer art their bliss supplies,
It gives their follies also room to rise;
For praise too dearly lov'd, or warmly sought,
Enfeebles all internal strength of thought;
And the weak soul, within itself unblest,
Leans for all pleasure on another's breast.
Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art
Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart;
Here Vanity assumes her pert grimace,
And trims her robes of frieze with copper lace:
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd,
The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade.
Processions form'd for piety and love,
A mistress or a saint in ev'ry grove.
By sports like these are all their cares beguil'd,
The sports of children satisfy the child:
Each nobler aim, represt by long control,
Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul;
While low delights, succeeding fast behind,
In happier meanness occupy the mind:
As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway,
Defac'd by time, and tott'ring in decay,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;
And, wond'ring man could want the larger pile,
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.
My soul, turn from them, turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansions tread,
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread:
No product here the barren hills afford
But man and steel, the soldier and his sword:
No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,
But winter ling'ring chills the lap of May:
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.
So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar,
But bind him to his native mountains more.
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal,
To make him lothe his vegetable meal;
But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.
Cheerful, at morn, he wakes from short repose,
Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes;
With patient angle trolls the finny deep,
Or drives his vent'rous plowshare to the steep;
Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,
And drags the struggling savage into day.
At night returning, ev'ry labor sped,
He sits him down the monarch of a shed;
Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys
His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze;
While his lov'd partner, boastful of her hoard,
Displays her cleanly platter on the board.
And haply too some pilgrim, thither led,
With many a tale repays the nightly bed.
Thus ev'ry good his native wilds impart
Imprints the patriot passion on his heart;
And e'en those hills, that round his mansion rise,
Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies:
Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms,
And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms;
And as a child, when scaring sounds molest,
Clings close and closer to the mother's breast,