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Chas. C. Emerson
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M. B.
PRINTED FOR JOHN SHARPE,
BY C. WHITTINGHAM, CHISWICK.
M DCCC XXII.
DR. JOHNSON pronounced THE TRAVELLER to be the finest poem that had appeared since the time of Pope; and this measured encomium, dictated by the great Aristarch of British Poets, was probably sufficient to content the ambition of the author. The Poem exhibits all the terseness, the polished versification, and the smartness of the author of the Essay on Man, whose style was the model of the poetasters of the day but there is an originality in Goldsmith, which entitles him to rank higher than the highest form in the school of Pope. In his style, he may perhaps be considered as an imitator: his thoughts are always his own, and are impressed with the genuine simplicity of his character.
THE TRAVELLER is one of the few didactic poems, in which the poet and the moralist never part company. The sentiments appeal to the imagination, as strongly as the descriptions by which they are illustrated. The author himself engages our interest in the person of the Traveller, and his observations and remarks acquire a picturesque effect, from being associated with the scenery which suggested them. On this production Goldsmith rested his hope of establishing his fame, and he bestowed his choicest hours on its composition. It was first printed in 1765, and it completely succeeded in procuring for the author celebrity and patronage. Patronage however
-at least the patronage of the great-was not the object of his solicitude. He dedicated his TRAVELLER to his brother, the Rev. Henry Goldsmith, to whom part of the poem was originally addressed from Switzerland: "a man who, despising fame and fortune, had retired early to happiness and obscurity, with an income of forty pounds a year." "The only dedication I ever made," says Goldsmith in addressing the DESERTED VILLAGE to Sir Joshua Reynolds, was to my brother, because I loved him better than most men.' A circumstance is narrated by his biographer, which affords additional proof, that a native spirit of independence and of careless disinterestedness formed a conspicuous trait of the poet's character. The poem had procured for Goldsmith the unsolicited friendship of Lord Nugent, afterwards Earl of Clare; and in consequence of his Lordship's favourable mention of the author, received an invitation to wait on the Earl of Northumberland. The Earl was on the eve of departing as Lord Lieutenant for Ireland, and hearing that Goldsmith was a native of that country, he expressed his willingness to do him a kindness. The account which the poet himself gives of his answer to the gracious offer is, that he "could say nothing but that he had a brother there, a clergyman, that stood in need of help. As for myself," he adds, "I have no dependence on the promises of great men; I look to the booksellers for support; they are my best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them for others."
The DESERTED VILLAGE was published in 1769. Like his other great ethic poem, it received the severest correction and the highest finishing he could bestow upon it; and cost him, both in time and labour, far more than many of those compilations by which he earned a subsistence. He was an author from necessity; he was a poet from feeling and from choice: but the spontaneous exercise of his imagination was a relaxation in which he rarely permitted