Slike strani

foreign to Goldsmith's. Addison's style, so to speak, always wears a wig: Goldsmith's is in its own hair. Addison receives his readers with a charming condescension and in his best clothes Goldsmith comes to see them on equal terms and in a becoming déshabille. We never feel, in reading Goldsmith, that he is holding himself aloof from us; he chats to us as easily as Fielding, and, if he has not Fielding's great breadth of vision and depth of insight, his choice of words is better. But we must judge Goldsmith ultimately by his humour. In this respect he is thoroughly characteristic of the His change which had passed over English literature humour. since the day of Addison and Pope-the transition its pathetic from a critical humour to a humour springing more quality. directly from the side of sentiment. Goldsmith never addresses us, like Fielding, with laughter uppermost; on the other hand, he has nothing of Sterne's nauseous predilection for tears; but the predominating note in his work is its intense tenderness, its caressing sympathy with misfortune, and the absence of scorn from its recognition of the grotesque. This peculiar form of sentiment-and it would be hard to find a better-is seen at its best in the two companion poems, The Traveller and The Deserted Village. We do not read the first for His serious poems. its false social theories, nor the second for the inconsistency between the pictures of Auburn in its happiness and in its decay. They attract us by the very sadness of their light verse and by the touch of personal feeling which is visible in every line. Auburn, the "deserted village," is generally supposed to be Lissoy, where Goldsmith had spent much of his childhood; and, in his hope of returning to pass his age among the scenes of his boyhood, and in all his detailed descriptions of the place, we see the force of reminiscence. In both poems the landscape is seen, as it were, through an atmosphere of soft haze. We can imagine a picture of Auburn by Claude Lorrain ; and, just as in Claude's landscapes we find the formal element of classical temples and a certain ordered cultivation, so these picturesque poems are contained within the artificial limits of the heroic couplet.

"The Citizen of

the World"

Character of
Beau Tibbs.

The almost impalpable humour which lights up the melancholy of The Deserted Village is seen at its best in certain chapters of The Citizen of the World. The picture of "Mr. Tibbs, the second-rate beau," might stand by itself as Goldsmith's claim to a place among writers of fiction. Beau Tibbs is the finest result of an intimate acquaintance with life, and of an experience that had taught its possessor how much there was to laugh at and how much more to pity. portrait is not a mere sketch; it is the finished study of a type. This beau is a pretender to fashion, who lives in a dreadful garret and wears tarnished finery, but, even amid the miserable poverty of his surroundings, boasts of his intimacy with the


leaders of society, and talks of his wretched room as though it were a palace. Painful as this picture, with all its accumulated detail, cannot fail to be, it loses much of its dreariness in the human kindness with which Goldsmith treats it. Beau Tibbs is doubtless a contemptible person; but, in his deliberate insensibility to his surroundings, there is a kind of poor heroism which, if somewhat shameless, is indescribably pathetic. The picture of Major Ponto, in Thackeray's Book of Snobs, is rather similar; but Thackeray's humour, in its very definite alternation of rather cruel satire with unalloyed pathos, is a very different thing from Goldsmith's, in which the satire is so gentle and so inextricable from a pathos so prevalent. The chapters on Beau Tibbs, great as they are, occur in the middle of a number of desultory essays, and are, on that account, perhaps, familiar to a smaller audience than The Vicar of Wakefield. "The Vicar of this immortal romance it is difficult to say more of Wakefield" (1766). than that, in spite of its absurdly inconsistent plot and utter want of construction, it remains one of those rare gems which no lapse of time can tarnish. The gentle and quiet humour of the portrait of Dr. Primrose, the delicate yet vigorous contrasts of character in the other personages, the constant atmosphere of purity, cheerfulness, and gaiety-these, with the transparency and grace of the style, will render the story a classic for all time. It is, however, less a novel than a narrative; it is a picture of contemporary manners rather than an attempt at telling a story artistically; and it occupies no place in the evolution of the English novel-that is, unless we regard it as a backward step.

Goldsmith's "The Good.


Natur'd Man"

Goldsmith's admirable comedies appeared at a time when dramatic literature, if plentiful, was very unfruitful. The GoodNatur'd Man is an excellent comedy of manners; but Goldsmith was too good-tempered and too much in sympathy with his own hero to be successful in that kind of satire which is essential to such pieces, and (1768); we see his characteristic work most nearly in the laughable character of Croaker, and in the scene in which Honeywood, visited by Miss Richland, passes off the bailiffs in his house as his personal friends. But in She Stoops to Conquer we have a first-rate specimen of the comedy of intrigue, whose interest mainly depends upon a succession of lively and farcical incidents and lightly sketched pictures of eccentric character. Since the Orange period, there had not been so good a comedy on the English stage, and, with its constant merriment and its freedom from indelicacy, it has kept possession of the theatre down to our own day. In the scenes between Young Marlow and Miss Hardcastle, or the famous scene in which Tony Lumpkin, a character worthy of Vanbrugh, drives his mother round and round the horse-pond, and frightens her into believing that her husband is a highwayman, we see Goldsmith

"She Stoops to Conquer" (1773).

The Humour of the shorter


divesting himself of his melancholy love of human nature, and revelling in the most pleasant and boisterous absurdities. In some of his lighter fugitive poems we are again face to face with this droller side of his humour. Haunch of Venison is a model of easy narrative and an accurate sketch of commonplace society, and in the piece called Retaliation we have a series of slight yet delicate portraits of Goldsmith's most distinguished literary friends, drawn with vigorous and refined strokes. Garrick, Burke, and Reynolds appear; Johnson, Gibbon, and Boswell are conspicuous by their absence. Several of the songs and ballads scattered through his work are remarkable for their tenderness and harmony; and indeed, the best general praise that can be given to Goldsmith is to remark the exceptional way in which, while giving full play to his softer emotions, he avoided the pitfall of sickliness and effeminacy.


§ 17. The great writers whom we have mentioned in this chapter had their satellites; but neither these lesser novelists nor their novels are in any sense conspicuous. In 1744 SARAH FIELDING, the sister of the great novelists: novelist, brought out a book called David Simple, SARAH which, in construction and general tone, certainly FIELDING (1710-1768). belongs to the new class of novel, and, although not aspiring to more than a decent mediocrity, has a quiet humour and sentiment of its own. Miss Fielding published another volume of David Simple in 1752, and a translation of Xenophon's Memorabilia (1762), and lies buried at Bath. Seven years later, in the year of Amelia and Pere- ROBert grine Pickle, a London lawyer called ROBERT PALTOCK went back to Defoe's manner in The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins (1751), an Antarctic Robinson Crusoe. And, in 1760, the first year of Tristram Shandy, CHARLES JOHNSTONE published his Chrysal, or Adventures of a Guinea, which, imitating Smollett CHARLES in his most ferocious manner, was a severe satire (d. 1800). on the sins and follies of the age. Its success led Johnstone to publish two supplementary volumes in 1765.



It will be noted that the last in date of the great novels is Humphrey Clinker (1771). Of other narratives and tales which appeared before this year, we shall speak in succeeding chapters. The novel did not win its way Temporary decline of all at once, and, after the great epoch of production, the novel. from 1740 to 1751, it began to languish. In an age which had fully accepted the novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, with its close resemblance to the Addisonian narratives of Marivaux, would not have been possible. The seed which had been sown by Richardson and Fielding lay dormant until its awakening in the early years of the nineteenth century.



§ 1. SAMUEL JOHNSON: the literary dictator of his age. His early life and hack-work in London. § 2. The Dictionary. Johnson and Lord Chesterfield. § 3. The Vanity of Human Wishes. Irene. Johnson's essays. Decline of the essay in English. § 4. Rasselas. Johnson's escape from poverty. § 5. Meeting of Johnson and JAMES BOSWELL. The Club. Johnson's friendships. Tour in the Hebrides. § 6. The Lives of the Poets. Johnson's death and character. § 7. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS: his artistic criticisms. § 8. LORD CHESTERFIELD'S Letters to his Son. $9. DAVID HUME. Life and works. $ 10. Hume's philosophical writings. The History of England. § 11. WILLIAM ROBERTSON: his historical work. 12. EDWARD GIBBON. Life and character. § 13. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. § 14. EDMUND BURKE: his life and style. § 15. The Letters of Junius and their supposed author. § 16. ADAM SMITH. The Wealth of Nations. § 17. SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE'S Commentaries. § 18. BUTLER'S Analogy. WARBURTON's Divine Legation. WILLIAM PALEY. 19. GILBERT WHITE. The Natural History of Selborne.


of his

§1. THE supreme importance of SAMUEL JOHNSON in the literature of his century consists not so much in what he wrote as in the guardianship which he maintained for many years over English letters. By no fictitious or assumed right, but by virtue of an unfailing judgment Importance and rigid taste, he reached a supremacy which all literary his contemporaries gladly acknowledged; and, having position. the good fortune to find in Boswell the best of biographers, his personal eccentricities and table-talk-the latter the most admirable in existence-have come down to posterity and given us an intimate acquaintance with the man himself which we enjoy with no other English writer. Moreover, his influence over the literary life of his day, although imperious, was not arrogant or domineering. He did not affect exclusiveness or aim at being the tyrant of a small society. He had raised himself from the poorest circumstances to the highest position to which he could aspire; and, all through his life, his criticism showed itself independent of mercenary feeling and ready to do justice to all who deserved it. In spite of his grimness, his bad manners, and his ugliness, his memory is that of the most

lovable of men, the most judicious of scholars, and the best of Christians.


His father was Michael Johnson, a poor and struggling bookseller at Lichfield; and it was in Lichfield that he was born in 1709. From his childhood he was disfigured and half blinded by the King's Evil, a form of scrofulous His life: disorder, and, when he was only three years old, he was taken to London by his mother and touched for his malady by Queen Anne. The disease affected both his appearance and his temper; it seamed and deformed a naturally imposing face and figure, and afflicted him with strange and involuntary contortions, like St. Vitus' dance; while it reacted upon his mind and temper, saddling him with a constitutional indolence hostile to his genius and ambition and making him irritable, sombre, and despondent. He was educated in a desultory fashion, first at Lichfield Grammar School, and then at a small school at Stourbridge; but, for the most part, the foundation of his future learning was laid at home. When, in 1728, he went up to Pembroke College, Oxford - his charges were defrayed by a benevolent patron-he carried there Life at Oxford. an amount of scholarship very rare at his age. The exact length of his residence at Oxford is rather obscure. He went down finally in 1731; but he appears to have been in almost continual residence for fourteen months after his entrance, and then to have gone down for a long period. Although his father's death in 1731, and the hopeless poverty into which his family was thrown, prevented him from taking his degree, he was a conspicuous member of his college, witty, independent, and insubordinate, honouring his tutors with his esteem, but following their advice only where it suited himself; and, in subsequent years, he looked back upon Oxford with affection and loved to re-visit Pembroke. The death of his father, however, made him acquainted with misery. Out of the confusion of his affairs he received only £20 as his share of the inheritance, and this he generously and dutifully attempts Early handed over to his mother. The only profession at gaining open to him was that of a schoolmaster, for which a living. his personal appearance, his disposition, and the character of his acquirements, united to disqualify him. He became an usher, for the next four years or so, in various provincial schools; but his irritability and the hideous faces he made terrified the boys, and when he tried to set up a school on his own account at Edial, near Lichfield, the attempt was a failure. Meanwhile, in 1735, he had translated Father Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia-his original was a French abbreviation of the Portuguese work-for a bookseller in Birmingham; and, in July of the same year, he had married Mrs. Porter, a widow old enough to be his mother, to whom, in spite of her defects of person and cultivation, he remained devotedly attached. Having ventured everything on the school at Edial, Johnson threw himself for support on litera

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