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to look over and revise some of his works; but, with a select friend or two, I was pressing that he should publish by subscription his two celebrated poems of the 'Traveller' and the 'Deserted Village,' with notes; for he was well aware that I was no stranger to Johnson's having made some little addition to the one, and possibly had suggested some corrections at least for the other; but the real meaning was to give some great persons an opportunity of conveying pecuniary relief, of which the doctor at that time was particularly in need. Goldsmith readily gave up to me his private copies, and said, Pray do what you please with them.' But whilst he sat near me, he rather submitted to than encouraged my zealous proceedings.
"I one morning called upon him, however, and found him infinitely better than I expected; and in a kind of exulting style he exclaimed, 'Here are some of my best prose writings; I have been hard at work since midnight, and I desire you to examine them.' These,' said I, 'are excellent indeed.' 'They are,' he replied,' intended as an introduction to a body of arts and sciences.'
"The day before I was to set out for Leicestershire, I insisted upon his dining with us. He replied, 'I will, but on one condition-that you will not ask me to eat any thing.' 'Nay,' said I, 'this answer is absolutely unkind; for I had hoped, as we are supplied from the Crown and Anchor, that you would have named something you might have relished.' 'Well,' was the reply, 'if you will but explain it to Mrs. Cradock, I will certainly wait upon you.'
"The doctor found as usual at my apartments newspapers and pamphlets, and with a pen and ink he amused himself as well as he could. I had ordered from the tavern some fish, a roasted joint of lamb, and a tart; and the doctor either sat down or walked about, just as he pleased. After dinner he took some wine with biscuits, but I was obliged soon to leave him for a while, as I had matters to settle for my next day's journey. On my return coffee was ready, and the doctor appeared more cheerful (for Mrs. Cradock was always rather a favourite with him); and in the course of the evening he endeavoured to talk and remark as usual, but all was force. He stayed till midnight, and I insisted on seeing him safe home, and we most cordially shook hands at the Temple gate. He did not live long after our return into Leicestershire; and I have often since regretted that I did not remain longer in town at every inconvenience." pp. 468, 469.
His death, which occurred soon after, was accelerated by the use of a medicine which was thought to be inapplicable to his case. He died on the 4th of April, 1774, at the early age of forty-five years.
Of the character of Dr. Goldsmith enough has been said to show that it was marked by many of those peculiarities which sometimes unhappily fall to the lot of genius. Rather of plain physiognomy, and not strikingly personable, he was slovenly or gay in his attire, according to his mood; and seldom in this, or any thing else, preserved a medium. He joined the greatest playfulness of temper to manners the most simple and unob trusive. His heart was open to every manifestation of distress, and his hand was at once obedient to its impulses. Owing to the thriftless prodigality of his munificence, and the base arts 65
VOL. XXI.- No. 42.
practised upon his simplicity, he was needy through life. Anecdotes abound in the pages of Mr. Prior, which want of space prevents us from quoting, in proof of the most extraordinary and boundless generosity. Poor as he was, so long as the objects which sought his bounty were in want, he continued to give, and only ceased his donatives when he had nothing left to bestow.
Dr. Goldsmith's pen was enlisted on the side of religion and virtue; and such was the moral chastity of his mind, that he repelled an application to write for the ministry with disdain. Considering the society in which he mingled in early life, the temptations to which he was exposed by his necessities, the sharpers who preyed upon his substance, and the scenes of profligacy he was doomed to witness, we think that the prevailing purity of his allusions and sentiments presents an anomaly in authorship. The honest sincerity of his heart determined him to decline the clerical office, believing that he was religiously unfit for such a station. His standing aloof from Baretti, because his principles were infidel, deserves specification, since the rigid Johnson and the other wits of London, adopted his companionship, and admitted him to their confidence and inti
The powers of Goldsmith as a writer in every thing he attempted, were of the highest order, and his range of subjects embraces nearly the wide circle of literature. Either as a poet, historian, naturalist, novelist, dramatic writer, biographer, or essayist, he has been rarely equalled. His delicate taste, his excursive imagination, the fine powers of his understanding, his exquisite humour, and the polished harmony of his expressions, prove the superiority and rare versatility of his talents. But this is not the place to enter into a critical examination of his distinct and comparative merits. These may be analysed hereafter, when Mr. Prior's edition of the poet's works shall be the subject of commentary. For the present, we shall quote in conclusion the opinions of two eminent writers upon the general character of his prose and poetry-opinions which good taste and critical judgment have long since recognised as orthodox. His prose compositions are thus characterized by Dr. Anderson in his British Poets :
"As a prose writer, Goldsmith must be allowed to have rivalled and even exceeded Dr. Johnson, and his imitator Dr. Hawkesworth, the most celebrated professional prose writer of his time. His prose may be regarded as the model of perfection, and the standard of our language; to equal which the efforts of most will be vain, and to exceed it, every expectation folly."
The other writer bears a name of no less literary authority than Sir Walter Scott. After condemning, in the character of
a reviewer, a remark which had been applied to the poetry of Pratt, that he inherited the lyre of Goldsmith, he proceeds in the following manner:
"This is the third instance we remember of living poets being complimented at the expense of poor Goldsmith. A literary journal has thought proper to extol Mr. Crabbe as far above him; and Mr. Richards (a man of genius also we readily admit) has been said in a note to a late sermon, famous for its length, to unite the nervousness of Dryden with the ease of Goldsmith.' This is all very easily asserted. The native ease and grace of Goldsmith's versification have probably led to the deception; but it would be difficult to point out one among the English poets less likely to be excelled in his own style than the author of the Deserted Village.' Possessing much of the compactness of Pope's versification, without the monotonous structure of his lines; rising sometimes to the swell and fulness of Dryden, without his inflations; delicate and masterly in his descriptions; graceful in one of the great graces of poetry, its transitions; alike successful in his sportive or grave, his playful or melancholy mood; he may long bid defiance to the numerous competitors whom the friendship or flattery of the present age is so hastily arraying against him."
ART. X.-MISCELLANEOUS NOTICES.
Juvenal and Persius. 1 vol. Classical Family Library, No. 35. Pindar and Anacreon. Ditto, No. 36. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1837.
We know of no undertaking in this age of cheap reprints, which deserves more encouragement than the Classical Family Library of the above enterprising publishers. The bent of the times has been entirely too much towards a disregard of classical studies and works, and in favour of the lighter and frivolous productions of fancy. To these have been postponed not only the bright memorials of antiquity, but even the remains of the Augustan age of English literature. Nothing has a run but the tribe of novels, or an occasional book of travels. This danger to the public taste we have often noticed, and have done our share in endeavouring to avert-the effect is but too apparent every where around us. Any experiment with a view of introducing a better state of things should be warmly welcomed, and ought to receive the aid of all who have the cause of letters in their country at heart.
No better plan can be pursued than that of introducing into general use the best classical authors through the medium of the most approved translations. They are thus capable of being enjoyed by all-and they require but to be known to be admired. A strange or a difficult tongue is then no longer an excuse for being ignorant of their contents. They should be presented, too, in such a shape, that while typography and binding are not disregarded, their cheapness may render them readily accessible. The Messrs. Harper have accomplished both these objects. The books in question are afforded at a reasonable rate; while, at the same time, the binding is very neat and durable, and the printing does credit to American art.
We wish that publications of this description were more generally encouraged in our country than they appear to be.
The Economy of Health, &c. By JAMES JOHNSON, M. D. 1 vol. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837.
This is another instructive book from the same press. The learned author professes to follow "the stream of human life from the cradle to the grave"-and he intermingles his narration with "reflections, moral, physical and philosophical, on the septennial phases of human existence." This is promising largely and dealing with rather sounding phrases-though we perceive at once by the work itself that the writer is no pretender, but handles his subject with a master's hand and in a style totally devoid of affectation. "Utility" he professes to have been his design in its composition; and certainly we have never met with a production on the all-important and much discussed theme of health, which contained more valuable suggestions or threw greater light upon the animal economy. He divides life into ten septenniads; ending of course with the seventieth year of mortal existence; and calling the few, sad years-"full of sorrow" as they are-which may perchance be allotted to any beyond that period, the "ultra-limites”—viz. from "seventy to naught."
There is a deal of practical information in the book on the subject of the body, its diseases and its capacities; the proper periods for intellectual and corporeal exertion; and the best modes of bringing into full play its dormant energies. All this should be attentively studied and thoroughly understood by parents and such as have the education of the young entrusted to them. Youth is the season for sowing not only those moral
and religious seeds which may spring up to the harvest in riper years, but also for laying up a stock of health which may enable its possessor to withstand the alternations of climate and the rigours of a laborious life, as well as the confinements and exertions of sedentary and professional avocations. How much havoc of health has been committed in the early years of human existence by injudicious or careless treatment, and how many bright promises of future excellence have been untimely blighted, the experienced physician alone can tell-though every churchyard contains its plentiful and mournful record. Although human skill can elongate man's brief career at the most to some fourscore years, and there is a limit in the counsels of Providence to his span of life which he is not permitted to pass, yet it may not only alleviate the sorrows and burdens of existence, soothe the sharp pain and calm the irritated pulse, but ofttimes arrest a premature march to the grave, and allow the ultimate victim of mortality "to strut his hour upon the stage." Nor let this be thought a trifle, whilst health is considered one of God's greatest blessings.
The last topic in his book is "religious consolation"-the fitting attendant of that period which is to end, so far as time is concerned, in naught. The language in which our author discusses this part of his subject is as beautiful as the sentiments are honourable.
Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal; and Other Tales. By the author of the "Yemassee," &c. 2 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837.
That Mr. Simms is a man of genius we take to be unquestionable that his genius, however, is not of the best regulated kind we consider equally undeniable. There is no endowment of Providence, mental or physical, of a more dangerous nature than this same quality of genius; none which is more likely "to perish in the using," or to produce fruits utterly at variance with the promise early held out. Without fixed principleswe speak not merely of morals but of order, restraint and moderation-genius is a curse instead of a blessing; for its vagaries nurture those erratic and evil propensities of man which are, unfortunately, too apt of themselves to run riot and lead their possessors into the wilderness of infidelity and licentiousness.
It must not be supposed from these grave introductory remarks, that we hold this author censurable for any extreme of