« 上一頁繼續 »
some secret and irresistible power through the glowing- system of creation, and passed innumerable worlds in a moment. As I approached the verge of nature, I perceived the shadows of total and boundless vacuity deepen before me, a dreadful region of eternal silence, solitude, and darkness! Unutterable horror seized me at the prospect, and this exclamation'burst from me with all the vehemence of desire: Oh! that I had been doomed for ever to the common receptacle of impenitence and guilt! their society would have alleviated the torment of despair, and the rage of fire could not have excluded the comfort of light. Or if I had been condemned to reside in a comet, that would return but once in a thousand years to the regions of light and life; the hope of these periods, however distant, would cheer me in the dread interval of cold and darkness, and the vicissitudes would divide eternity into time. While this thought passed over my mind, I lost sight of the remotest star, and the last glimmering of light was quenched in utter darkness. The agonies of despair every moment increased, as every moment augmented my distance from the last habitable world. I reflected with intolerable anguish, that when ten thousand thousand years had carried me beyond the reach of all but that Power who fills infinitude, I should still look forward into an immense abyss of darkness, through which I should still drive without succor and without society, farther and farther still, for ever and for ever. I then stretched out my hand towards the regions of existence, with an emotion that awaked me. Thus have I been taught to estimate society, like every other blessing, by its loss. My heart is warmed to liberality; and I am zealous to communicate the happiness which I feel, to those from whom it is derived; for the society of one wretch, whom in the pride of prosperity I would have spurned from my door, would, in the dreadful solitude to which I was condemned, have been moro highly prized than the gold of Afric, or the gems of Golconda."
At this reflection upon his dream, Carazan became suddenly silent, and looked upward in ecstasy of gratitude and devotion. The multitude were struck at once with the precept and exam pie ; and the caliph, to whom the event was related, that he might be liberal beyond the power of gold, commanded it to be recorded for the benefit of posterity.
Adetnturer, No. 132. A LESSON FROM THE FLIGHT OF TIME.1
The hour is hastening, in which, whatever praise or censure I have acquired hy these compositions, if they are remembered ai all, will be remembered with equal indifference, and the tenor of
1 The concluding paragraph of the Itwt number ofthj Adventurer.
them only will afford me comfort. Time, who is impatient to date my last paper, will shortly moulder the hand that is now writingit in the dust, and still the breast that now throbs at the reflection: but let not this be read as something that relates only to another; for a few years only can divide the eye that is now reading from the hand that has written. 'This awful truth, however obvious, and however reiterated, is yet frequently forgotten; for, surely, if we did not lose our remembrance, or at least our sensibility, that view would always predominate in our lives, which alone can afford us comfort when we die.
The following little poem, composed but a month before his death, and dictated to Mrs. Hawkesworth before he rose in the mornfng, will prove how vividly he felt, at that period, the consolations arising from dependence on the mercy of his God.
In Sleep's serene oblivion laid,
I safely pass'd the silent night;
And drink again the morning light.
New-born I bless the waking hour,
Once more, with awe, rejoice to be;
And springs, my gracious God, to thee
O, guide me through the various maze
Aly doubtful feet are doom'd to tread;
When dangers press around my head.
A deeper shade will soon impend,
A deeper sleep my eyes oppress;
Thy goodness still shall deign to bless.
That deeper shade shall fade away,
That deeper sleep shall leave my eyes;
Thy love the rapture of the skies I
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. 1728—1774.
This distinguished poet, novelist, historian, and essayist, was born at Pallas, in tne county of Longford, Ireland, on November 10, 1728. His father was a clergyman, and held the living of Kilkenny West, in the county of Westineath. After studying the classics at two or three private schools, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizer,1 in his fifteenth year. Here he was
idle, extravagant, and occasionally insubordinate; though we ought in justice to say that a most injudicious and passionate tutor, a Mr. Wilder, should be held partly responsible for the unsatisfactory nature of Goldsmith's college career.
About th» time of his leaving the university his father died,1 but his uncle, the Rev. Thomas Contarine, who had already borne the principal part of the expenses of his education, amply supplied the father's place. Disappointed in one or two plans that he had marked out for him, he determined to send him to London, to study the law, at the Temple. But stopping at Dublin on his way, he lost, in gambling, the sum that had been given him for the ex penses of his journey, and returned home penniless. The kindness of his uncle was not yet exhausted, and he sent him to Edinburgh to study medi cine, where ho arrived at the close of the year 1752. Here he remained about eighteen months, when, in consequence of becoming security to a considerable amount for a classmate, he was obliged to quit the city abruptly, and sailed for Leyden. Here he studied about a year, and Uien set out to make the tour of Europe on foot; having with him, it is said, only one clean shirt, and no money, and trusting to his wits for support.2 By various expedients he worked his way through Flanders, parts of France and Germany, Switzerland, (where he composed part of " The Traveller,") and the North of Italy, and returned to London in the autumn of 1756, with an empty pocket, indeed, but with a mind enriched by observations of foreign countries, which he ha9 so admirably expressed in that charming poem—"The Traveller."
After trying various means of a professional character for support, he resolved to depend upon his pen; and in April, 1757, made an engagement with Mr. Griffiths, the proprietor of the Monthly Review, to write for th-it journal, for a salary, and his board and lodging in the proprietor's house. At the end of seven or eight months, this engagement was given up by mutual consent, and Goldsmith went into private lodgings, to finish his u Inquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe," which was publishe I in 1759. His next publication was "The Bee," a series of Essays on a variety of subjects, published weekly, which, for want of support, terminated with the eighth number, November 24, 1759. Though neglected at their first appearance, yet, when known, some time after, to be from the same pen as "The Traveller," and the "Vicar of Wakefield," they were very generally read and admired. Such is the world; withholding from unknown and unhonored genius that praise which it lavishes when needed not.
1 "To this very amiable Cither, the son, by Ms power In the dellneaUon of character, has Ktven celebrity In three of bis sketches; one In the 'Citizen of the World' (Letter 27th); a second .n Dr. Primrose. In the 'Vicar of Wakeaeld;' and a third, as the family always suited, In reference to hi» spiritual character, In the Preacher In the 'Deserted Village.' Each lias peculiarities that distinguish It from the other, yet touched so skilfully, that with some variation, they cannot be said to offer a contradiction."—Prwr.
* The following passage in the "Vicar of Wakefield" is supposed to describe his own travels: ■■ 1
"How often have I led thy sportive choir
In 1760, he published his "Letters of a Citizen of the World,1'1 which were very generally read and as generally admired; and have long taken their stand in the list of English classics. His next work was his celebrated novel, "The Vicar of Wakefield," which, though finished in 1703, was not published till 176G. when his "Traveller'* had established his fajne. But it no sooner appeared than it secured the warmest friends among every description of readers; with the old, by the purity of its moral lessons; and with the young, by the interest of the story. Its great charm is its close adherence to nature; nature in its commendable, not in its vicious points of view. u The Primrose family is a great creation of genius: such a picture of warm-hearted simplicity, mingled with the little foibles and weaknesses common to the best specimens of humanity, that we find nothing like it in the whole range of fictioii."8
In December, 1764, was published "The Traveller," the earliest of his productions to which Goldsmith prefixed his name. Dr. Johnson was the first to introduce it to the public, in a notice in the Critical Review, closing his remarks with these words: « Such is the poem on which we now congratulate the public, as on a production to which, since the death of Pope, it will not be easy to find any thing equal." It is hardly necessary to say how perfectly this sentiment has been universally concurred in; for few poems in the English language have been more deservedly popular. In 1705 he published his ballad of the "Hermit," and engaged in other works for the booksellers, to supply his immediate wants. In 1768 appeared his comedy of MThe Good-Natured Man," which had not much success; but in the next year the "Deserted Village" was given to the public, which gave him a still higher rank, and still greater celebrity as a poet A In the same year he
X These Letters purported to be written by a Chinese philosopher, Who, In travelling through Europe, for the purpose of examining the manner* and customs of the various nations, fixed his residence for some time in England, for the purpose of describing the manners of its people. He Is fan of the wisest reflections upon men and manners, and sometime!* utters very startling sentiment*.
a Prior, vol. 11. p. 111. •* Wc read the ' Vicar of Wakefield' In youth and In age,—we return to tl again and again, and Mens the memory of an author who contrives so well to reconcile us to human nat ure."—Sir Waiter Scott.
"The Irresistible charm this novel possesses, evinces how much may be done without the aid of extravagant Incident, to excite the imaginaUon and interest the feelings. Few productions of this kind adorJ greater amusement In the perusal, and still fewer inculcate more impressive lessons of morality. Though wit and humor abound In every page, yet In the whole volume there is not one thought Injurious in its tendency, nor one sentiment Unit can offend the chastest ear. Its language, In the w ords of an elegant writer, is what' angels might have heard, and virgins told.' "— ll'iuAixytm Iroivg.
An Interesting anecdote relative to this novel, told by Boswcll In his Life of Johnson, and which has been illustrated by a most beautiful engraving, may here be repeated :—" I received one morning," says Johnson, "a message from poor Goldsmith that he was In great distress, and, as it was not. In his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as Booh as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to hlra dlrecUy. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and tuund that his landlady had arrested him for his rent; at which he was in a violent passion. I pern-ived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira, and a glass before nlra. I put the cork Into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means oy which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked Into It, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return; and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Gollnrolth the money, and he discliarged his rent, not without rating his landlady tn a high tone for having used him so ill."
3 "The 'Deserted Village' has an endearing locality, and Introduces us to beings with whom the imagination contracts an intimate friendship. Fiction in poetry 1b not the reverse of truth, but her foftand enchanted resemblance; and this ideal beauty of nature has been seldom unittd with so much scber fidelity as In Uie groups and scenery of the DosertcJ Village.' CtnpbtU
entered into engagements for writing his histories of Rome, Greece, and England.
Two years after, he appeared the second time as a dramatic author, and with very great success. Dr. Johnson said of " She Stoops to Conquer," that h6 knew of no comedy for many years that had so much exhilarated an audience, and had answered the great end of comedy—making an audienoa merry. One of his last publications was a "History of the Earth, and Animated Nature," which appeared in 1774, and for which he received the sum of eight hundred and fifty pounds; but such was his improvidence that his money was gone almost as soon as received. A tale of distress would take from him his last penny. His affairs, in consequence, became very much deranged; and his circumstances, preying upon his mind, are supposed to have accelerated his death, which occurred on the 4th of April, 1774.
"Thus terminated the life of an admirable writer and estimable man at the early age of forty-five, when his powers were in full vigor, and much was to be expected from their exertion. The shock to his friends appears to have been great from the unexpected loss of one whose substantial virtues, with all his foibles and singularities, they had learned to value. Burke, on hearing it, burst into tears; Sir Joshua Reynolds relinquished painting for the day,—a very unusual forbearance; ami Dr. Johnson, though little prone to exhibit strong emotions of grief, felt most sincerely on this occasion."1 Three months afterward he thus wrote to Boswell: "Of poor dear Dr. Goldsmith there is little to be told more than the papers have made public. He died of a fever, I am afraid more violent from uneasiness of mind. He had raised money and squandered it, by every artifice of acquisition and folly of expense. But let not his frailties be remembered: he was a very great man.''1
To the merits of Goldsmith, as a writer, the testimony of critics almost innumerable might be adduced. But the following few lines from an admirable article by Sir Walter Scott, will suffice: "The wreath of Golds nith is unsullied; he wrote to exalt virtue and expose vice; and he accomplished his task in a manner which raises him to the highest rank among British authors. We close his volume with a sigh, that such an author should have written so little from the stores of his own genius, and that he should have so prematurely been removed from the sphere of literature which ho so highly adorned.""
1 Prior, vol. It. p. sis.
* "Here Fancy's r.ivorIU», Goldsmith, sleeps;
SI. /iiMfi OtrcnUU, April 7, 1774. s Read—the article on Goldsmith In the 3d vol. of Scott's Prose Works: also, anot her in the 57th vol. of Quarterly Review: also life, in Mrs. Barbauld's " Lives of the British Novelists:" also, Life and Works by Prior, 6 vols., one of the most valuable contributions to English literature of the present century. In Boswell's Johnson, Goldsmith Is frequently mentioned, but not in such a manner as to do any justice to his character. How coull it be expected from such a man t When the work was first published, Burke, much displeased that Goldsmith should be so undervalued 'n ii. remarked to a lady: "What rational opinion, my dear madam, could you expect a lawyer to give of a poet r' Wilkes improved upon this, and remarked at a dinner, "A Scotch lawyer and an Irish poet I hold 10 be about as opposite as the antipodes." Sir Joshua Reynolds also expressed his decided dissent from Boswell's opinions; and George Stevens, in his usual sarcnsUc spirit, remarked, "Why, sir, It is not unusual for a man who has much genius to be censured by one who has none." And Sir Waltei Scott remarked, "I wonder why Boswell so often displnya a malevolent feeling towards Ooln.u.ith. Rivalry for Johnson's good graces, perhaps." That Johnson's opinion was most favorable lo Gold* smllh, Bosweu's own book testtfles. Hear him: "Goldsmith was a man who, whatever ne wrote, did tt better than any other man could do. He deserved a place In Westminster Abbey; and tvey