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wards, as they were passing by Temple-bar, where the heads of Jacobite rebels, executed for treason, were mouldering aloft on spikes, pointed up to the grizzly mementos, and echoed the intimation,
THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
Publication of the Deserted Village-notices and illustrations of it.
SEVERAL years had now elapsed since the publication of The Traveller, and much wonder was expressed that the great success of that poem had not excited the author to further poetic attempts. On being questioned at the annual dinner of the Royal Academy by the Earl of Lisburn, why he neglected the muses to compile histories and write novels, "My Lord," replied he, "by courting the muses I shall starve, but by my other labors I eat, drink, have good clothes, and can enjoy the luxuries of life." So, also, on being asked by a poor writer what was he most profitable mode of exercising the pen, "My dear fellow," replied he, good-humoredly, "pay no regard to the draggle-tailed muses; for my part I have found productions in prose much more sought after and better paid for."
Still, however, as we have heretofore shown, he found sweet moments of dalliance to steal away from his prosaic toils, and court the muse among the green lanes and hedge-rows in the rural environs of London, and on the 26th of May, 1770, he was enabled to bring his Deserted Village before the public.
The popularity of The Traveller had prepared the way for poem, and its sale was instantaneous and immense. The
first edition was immediately exhausted; in a few days a second was issued; in a few days more a third, and by the 16th of August the fifth edition was hurried through the press. As is the case with popular writers, he had become his own rival, and critics were inclined to give the preference to his first poem; but with the public at large we believe the Deserted Village has ever been the greatest favorite. Previous to its publication the bookseller gave him in advance a note for the price agreed upon, one hundred guineas. As the latter was returning home he met a friend to whom he mentioned the circumstance, and who apparently judging of poetry by quantity rather than quality, observed that it was a great sum for so small a poem. "In truth," said Goldsmith, "I think so too; it is much more than the honest man can afford or the piece is worth. I have not been easy since I received it." In fact, he actually returned the note to the bookseller, and left it to him to graduate the payment according to the success of the work. The bookseller, as may well be supposed, soon repaid him in full with many acknowledgments of his disinterestedness. This anecdote has been called in question, we know not on what grounds; we see nothing in it incompatible with the character of Goldsmith, who was very impulsive, and prone to acts of inconsiderate generosity.
As we do not pretend in this summary memoir to go into a criticism or analysis of any of Goldsmith's writings, we shall not dwell upon the peculiar merits of this poem; we cannot help noticing, however, how truly it is a mirror of the author's heart and of all the fond pictures of early friends and early life for ever present there. It seems to us as if the very last accounts received from home, of his "shattered family," and the desolatio hat seemed to have settled upon the haunts of his child
THOUGHTS OF HOME.
hood, had cut to the roots one feebly cherished hope, and produced the following exquisitely tender and mournful lines:
"In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last."
How touchingly expressive are the succeeding lines, wrung from a heart which all the trials and temptations and buffetings of the world could not render worldly; which, amid a thousand follies and errors of the head, still retained its childlike innocence; and which, doomed to struggle on to the last amidst the din and turmoil of the metropolis, had ever been cheating itself with a dream of rural quiet and seclusion:
Oh bless'd retirement! friend to life's decline,
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
The following article, which appeared in a London periodical, shows the effect of Goldsmith's poem in renovating the fortunes of Lissoy.
"About three miles from Ballymahon, a very central town in the sister kingdom, is the mansion and village of Auburn, so called by their present possessor, Captain Hogan. Through the taste and improvement of this gentleman, it is now a beautiful spot, although fifteen years since it presented a very bare and unpoetical aspect. This, however, was owing This, however, was owing to a cause which serves strongly to corroborate the assertion, that Goldsmith had this scene in view when he wrote his poem of The Deserted Village.' The then possessor, General Napier, turned all his tenants out of their farms that he might inclose them in his own private domain. Littleton, the mansion of the general, stands not far off, a complete emblem of the desolating spirit lamented by the poet, dilapidated and converted into a barrack.