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Behold the ancient woods in golden glory,
Seek ye their solitary mystic glades -
By flowery banks or bowering orchard shades.
Behold the ivied tower and mouldering walls,
From whence the voice of praise ascends on high,
On pilgrim hearts like music from the sky.
But no beloved dust lies consecrated there."
Behold the radiant stars are gazing down,
In myriads on the shrouded world beneath-
May ponder mysteries of life and death.
C. A. M. W.
LIFE OF GOLDSMITH.
In October Goldsmith returned to town, and resumed his usual haunts. An incident that occurred at this time gave rise to a sarcastic attack upon him by his old enemy Kenrick. It was somewhat keen and severe, and Goldsmith smarted under the infliction. Johnson observing this gave utterance to the following truthful remark: “ Never mind, sir, a man whose business it is to be talked of is much helped by being attacked. Fame, sir, is a shuttlecock : if it be struck only at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground; to keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.” Goldsmith's absurd fondness for extravagant dress was still indulged in, and subjected him to the caustic remarks of both friends and strangers. One suit especially is mentioned by Boswell, who invited Goldsmith to dine with some of the then celebrities. He was there early, and strutted up and down the room boasting of his suit. “ He strutted about,” says Boswell, “ brag. ging of his dress, and, I believe, was seriously vain of it, for his mind was undoubtedly prone to such impressions.”.
“Come, come,” said Garrick, “talk no more of that. You are perhaps the worst-eh, eh ?”
Goldsmith was eagerly attempting to interrupt him, when Garrick went on laughing ironically. “ Nay, you will always look like a gentleman, but I am talking of your being well or ill-dressed.”
“Well, let me tell you,” said Goldsmith, “that when the tailor brought home my bloom-coloured coat, he said, “Sir, I have
afavour to beg of you: when anybody asks you who made your clothes, be pleased to mention John Filby, at the Harrow, in Water Lane.'
- Why, sir,” cried Johnson, that was because he knew the strange colour would attract crowds to gaze at it, and thus they might hear of him, and see how vell he could make a coat of so absurd a colour."
Other reasons besides vanity, as Bozzy thinks, may have moved Goldsmith to some particularity in his dress. His desire to overcome by art the defects of nature, and conceal his ugliness, as well as to conciliate the favour of a Miss Horneck, may have influenced him to a great extent. The first year that he knew the Hornecks, a Devonshire family, “ the telltale book of his tailor, Mr. William Filby, displays entries of four or five full suits, besides separate articles of dress. Among the items, we find a green half-trimmed frock and breeches, lined with silk; a queen's blue dress suit; a half-dress suit of ratteen, lined with satin ; a pair of silk stocking breeches, and another pair of a bloom colour.” Alas ! poor Goldsmith ! how much of this silken finery was dictated not by vanity, but humble consciousness of thy defects. How much of it was to alone for the upcouthness of thy person, and to win favour in the eyes of the Jessamy Bride.
In 1768-9, Goldsmith took up his quarters in the Temple, working at his Roman history. Here he enjoyed himself much in the society of some of its learned members, and his history was issued in the May 1769. To speak of the merits of a work which so long maintained an ascendancy, though now superseded, were useless. We will, however, quote the following conversation, which will show the opinion entertained of it by Johnson.
“Whether,” said Johnson, “we take Goldsmith as a poet, a comic writer, or an historian, he stands in the first class."
Boswell : “ An historian, my dear sir; you surely will not rank his compilation of the Roman history with the works of other historians of the age.”
Johnson : “ Why, who are before him ?"
Johnson : (his antipathy against the Scotch beginning to rise) “ I have not read Hume; but doubtless Goldsmith's history is better than Robertson's verbiage, or the foppery of Dalrymple.”
Boswell: “Will you not admit the superiority of Robertson, in whose history we find such penetration, such painting ?”
Johnson: “Sir, you must consider how that penetration, and that painting are employed. It is not history, it is imagination. He who describes what he never saw, describes from fancy. Robertson paints minds as Sir Joshua paints faces, in a history piece; he imagines an heroic countenance. You must look upon Robertson's work as romance, and try it by that standard. History it is not. Besides, sir, it is the great excellence of
put into his book as much as his book will hold. Goldsmith has done this in his history. Now Robertson might have put twice as much in his book. Robertson is like a man who has packed gold in wool : the wool takes up more room than the gold. No, sir, I always thought Robertson would be crushed with his own weight -would be buried under his own ornaments. Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want to know; Robertson detairs you a great deal too long. No man will read Robertson's cumbrous detail a second time; but Goldsmith's plain narrative will please again and again. I would say to Robertson what an old tutor of a college said to one of his pupils : Read over your compositions, and whenever you meet with a passage, which you think particularly fine, strike it out. Goldsmith's abridgment is better than that of Lucius Florus or Eutropius; and I will venture to say, that if you compare him with Robertson in the same places of the Roman history, you will find that he excels Vertot, sir; he has the art of compiling, and of saying everything he has to say in a pleasing manner. He is now writing a Natural history, and will make it as entertaining as a Persian tale."
In this year he commenced his history of Animated Nature, which was to be completed in eight volumes : the publisher undertaking to pay one hundred guineas on the delivery of the MS. of each volume. This work is chiefly built upon Buffon, and though there are some errors in it, yet it contains many deeply interesting facts; and it is written in a pleasing and winning style. The two following extracts are well worth perusal:
Speaking of rooks, he says—"I have often amused myself with observing their plans of policy from my window in the Temple, that looks upon a grove, where they have made a colony in the midst of a city. At the commencement of spring the rookery, which, during the continuance of winter, seemed to have been deserted, or only guarded by about five or six, like old soldiers in a garrison, now begins to be once more frequented; and in a short time, all the bustle and hurry of business will be fairly commenced."
The next refers to spiders—“Of all the solitary insects I have ever remarked, the spider is the most sagacious, and its motions to me, who have attentively considered them, seem almost to exceed belief.
I perceived about four years ago, a large spider in one corner of my room making its web; and though the maid frequently levelled her broom against the labours of the little animal, I had the good fortune then to prevent its destruction, and I must say it more than paid me by the entertainment it afforded.
“ In three days the web was, with incredible diligence, completed, nor could I avoid thinking that the insect seemed to exult in his new abode. It frequently traversed it round, examined the strength of every part of it, retired into its hole,
and came out very frequently. The first enemy, however, it had to encounter was another and a much larger spider, which, having no web of its own, and having probably exhausted alí its stock in former labours of this kind, came to invade the property of its neighbour. Soon, then, a terrible encounter ensued, in which the invader seemed to have the victory, and the laborious spider was obliged to take refuge in its hole. Upon this I perceived the victor using every art to draw the enemy from his stronghold. He seemed to go off, but quickly returned ; and when he found all arts in vain, began to denolish the new web without mercy. This brought on another battle, and, contrary to my expectations, the laborious spider became conqueror, and fairly killed his antagonist.
“Now then in peaceable possession of what was justly its own, it worked three days with the utmost impatience repairing the breaches of its web, and taking no sustenance that I could perceive. At last, however, a large blue fly fell into the snare, and struggled hard to get loose. The spider gave it leave to entangle itself as much as possible, but it seemed to be too strong for the cobweb. I must own I was greatly surprised when I saw the spider immediately sally out, and in less than a minute weave a net round its captive, by which the motion of its wings was stopped ; and when it was fairly hampered in this manner, it was seized and dragged into the hole.
In this manner it lived in a precarious state ; and nature seemed to have fitted it for such a life, for upon a single fly it subsisted for more than a week. I once put a wasp into the net ; but when the spider caine out in order to seize it as usual, upon perceiving what kind of enemy it had to deal with, it instantly broke all the bands that held it fast, and contributed all that lay in his power to disengage so formidable an antagonist. When the wasp was set at liberty, I expected the spider would have set about repairing the breaches that were made in its net; but these, it seems, were irreparable; wherefore the cobweb was now entirely forsaken, and a new one begun, which was completed in the usual time.
“I had now a mind to try how many cobwebs a single spider could furnish; wherefore I destroyed this, and the insect set about another. When I destroyed the other also, its whole stock seemed entirely exhausted, and it could spin no more. The arts it made use of to support itself, now deprived of its great means of subsistence, were indeed surprising. I have seen it work up its legs like a ball, and lie motionless for hours together, but cautiously watching all the time : when a fily happened to approach sufficiently near, it would dart out all at once, and often seized ils prey. “Of this life, however, it soon began to grow weary, and resolved
to invade the possession of some other spider, since it could not make a web of its own. It formed an attack upon a neighbouring fortification with great vigour, and at first was as vigorously repulsed. Not daunted, however, with one defeat, in this manner it continued to lay siege to another's web for three days, and at length having killed the defendant, actually took possession. When smaller flies happen to fall into the snare, the spider does not sally out at once, but very patiently waits till it is sure of them; for upon his immediately approaching, the terror of his appearance mighi give the captive strength sufficient to get loose; the manner, then, is to wait patiently till by ineffectual and impotent struggles, the captive has wasted all its strength, and then he becomes a certain, and easy conquest.
“ The insect I am now describing lived three years ; every year it changed its skin, and got a new set of legs. I have sometimes plucked off a leg, which grew again in two or three days. At first it dreaded my approach to its web, but at last it became so familiar as to take a fly out of my hand ; and upon my touching any part of the web, would immediately leave its hole, prepared either for a defence or an attack.”
CONTINENTAL RAMBLES.—LETTER II.
We entered the Garonne on the morning of the 19th of June, and a few hours brought us within sight of Bordeaux, the approach to which is magnificent, the quay extending for three miles in a semi-circular form towards the river, which is spanned by a bridge of seventeen arche considered the finest in France. Our luggage was examined immediately on 'landing on the open quay, with a little crowd of from thirty to forty people round, whose curiosity seemed to have got the better of their politeness. We established ourselves at the Hotel de la Paix, which deserves mention as one of—or perhaps quite—the cleanest we met with in the course of our travels. It is worth going through something to enjoy, in its full extent, the luxury of a bath, a good dinner, and a comfortable bed. Our hotel was situated at the back of the Spectacle,-a large, handsome building, standing by itself, occupying as large an area, we thought, as our Italian Opera House. On further acquaintance, however, we found that the part used for the performances was small, dingy, and dirty. We went one evening, with a view of improving our knowledge of the language; but not having studied the billet beforehand, found the performance consisted