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OLIVER GOLDSMITH: 1728-1774.

Goldsmith the son of an Irish curate, was educated for the medical profes

sion, and after struggling for some years with misfortune and poverty, settled in London as a writer. His chief poems are The Traveller and The Deserted Village ; the former of which is a contemplative and descriptive piece of the highest merit, while the latter contains some of the happiest pictures of rural life and character in the English language. (For specimens of Goldsmith's prose, see Readings in English Prose, p. 127.)

FROM THE TRAVELLER.

Swiss LIFE.

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Turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansions tread,
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread :
No product here the barren hills afford,
But man and steel, the soldier and his sword :
No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,
But winter lingering chills the lap of May:
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.

Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage

disarm.
Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though small,
He sees his little lot the lot of all ;
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
To shame the meanness of his humble shed ;
No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal,
To make him loathe his vegetable meal ;
But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.
Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,
Breasts the keen air, and carols as he goes ;
With patient angle trolls the finny deep,
Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep;
Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,
And drags the struggling savage into day.

At night returning, every labour sped,
He sits him down the monarch of a shed ;
Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys
His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze;
While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard,
Displays her cleanly platter on the board :
And haply, too, some pilgrim thither led,
With many a tale repays the nightly bed.

FROM THE DESERTED VILLAGE.

THE VILLAGE OF AUBURN.

Sweet Auburn ! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain ;
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed ;
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please ;
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene !
How often have I paused on every charm !
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm ;
The never failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill ;
The hawthorn-bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made !
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play ;
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led

up their sports beneath the spreading tree ;
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed ;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
And still, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired :
The dancing pair that simply sought renown,
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain, mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place ;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love,

The matron’s glance that would those looks reprove These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like these, With sweet succession, taught e’en toil to please.

Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close, Up yonder hill the village murmur rose ; There as I passed, with careless steps and slow, The mingling notes came softened from below; The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung, The sober herd that lowed to meet their young; The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool, The playful children just let loose from school; The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind, And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind : These all in sweet confusion sought the shade, And filled each pause the nightingale had made.

THE VILLAGE ALE-HOUSE.

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Near yonder thorn that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired, Where gray-beard mirth and smiling toil retired ; Where village statesmen talked with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace The parlour splendours of that festive place ; The whitewashed wall, the nicely-sanded floor, The varnished clock that clicked behind the door ; The chest, contrived a double debt to pay, A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day ; The pictures placed for ornament and use, The twelve good rules, the royal game of

goose ;
The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay ;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.

Vain transitory splendour! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Thither no more the peasant shall repair,

To sweet oblivion of his daily care ;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail ;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear ;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round ;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be pressed,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.

Yes ! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway:
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined.
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain ;
And even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks if this be joy ?

HUMOROUS EPITAPH ON EDMUND BURKE.

Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such,
We scarcely can praise it or blame it too much ;
Who, born for the universe, narrowed his mind,
And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat,
To persuade Tommy Townsend to lend him a vote ;
Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,
And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining.
Though equal to all things, for all things unfit ;
Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit:
For a patriot too cool ; for a drudge disobedient,
And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient.
In short, 'twas his fate, unemployed, or in place, sir,
To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor.

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WILLIAM FALCONER: 1732-17 69.

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Falconer, a Scotch sailor, is noted for The Shipwreck, a descriptive poem of

singular merit. He went early to sea, and before he was eighteen years of age became second-mate in the Britannia, a vessel in the Levant trade, which was wrecked off Cape Colonna, in Greece, as described in his poem. The Shipwreck was dedicated to the Duke of York, who procured for the poet the appointment of midshipman in the navy. In 1769 he sailed as purser in a frigate bound for India; but the ship, after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, was never more heard of.

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FROM THE SHIPWRECK.

And now, lashed on by destiny severe,
With horror fraught the dreadful scene drew near!
The ship hangs hovering on the verge of death,
Hell

yawns, rocks rise, and breakers roar beneath!....
In vain the cords and axes were prepared,
For now the audacious seas insult the yard ;
High o'er the ship they throw a horrid shade,
And o'er her burst, in terrible cascade.
Uplifted on the surge, to heaven she flies,
Her shattered top half buried in the skies,
Then headlong plunging thunders on the ground,
Earth groans, air trembles, and the deeps resound!
Her giant bulk the dread concussion feels,
And quivering with the wound, in torment reels;
So reels, convulsed with agonising throes,
The bleeding bull beneath the murderer's blows.
Again she plunges; hark ! a second shock
Tears her strong bottom on the marble rock!
Down on the vale of death, with dismal cries,
The fated victims shuddering roll their eyes
In wild despair; while yet another stroke,
With deep convulsion, rends the solid oak:
Till, like the mine, in whose infernal cell
The lurking demons of destruction dwell,
At length asunder torn her frame divides,
And crashing spreads in ruin o'er the tides.

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