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The universal esteem in which his poems are held, and the repeated pleasure they give in the perusal, are striking proofs of their merit. He was a studious and correct observer of nature, happy in the selection of his images, in the choice of his subjects, and in the harmony
his versification; and, though his embarrassed situation prevented him from putting the last hand to some of his productions, his Hermit, his Traveller, and his Deserted Village, bid fair to claim a place among the most finished pieces in the English language.
EPITAPH ON DR. GOLDSMITH,
BY W. WOTY.
ADIEU, sweet bard! to each fine feeling true,
“ Here, for a while, my proper cares resign'd, * Here let me fit in forrow for mankind--
Like yon neglected thrub, at random cast, " That Pades the steep, and fighs at every blast.”
Traveller, P. 24.
REV. HENRY GOLDSMITH.
DEAR SIR, I am fenfible that the friendship between us can acquire no new force from the ceremonies of a Dedication; and, perhaps, it demands an excuse thus to prefix your name to my attempts, which you decline giving with your own: But as a part of this poem was formerly written to you from Switzerland, the whole can now, with propriety, be only inscribed to you. It will also throw a light upon many parts of it, when the Reader understands, that it is addressed to who, despising fame and fortune, has retired carly to happiness and obfcurity, with an income of forty pounds a-year.
I now perceive, my dear Brother, the wisdom of your humble choice. You have entered upon a Sacred ofice, where the harvest is great, and the labourers are but few; while you have left the field of ambition, where the labourers are many, and the harvest not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambition, as things are now circumstanced, perhaps that which pursues Poetical fame is the wildest. What from the increased refinement of the times, from the diversity of judgments, produced by oppohng Systems of criticism, and from the more prevalent divisions of opinion influenced by party, the strongest and happies efforts can expect to please but in a very narrow circle.
Poetry makes a principal amusement among unpolished nations; but in a country verging to the extremes of refinement, Painting and Music come in for a share: And as the fe offer the feeble mind a less laborious entertainment, they at first rival Poctry, and at length supplant her they engross all that favour once shewn to her, and, though but younger fifters, seize upon the elder's birth-right.
Yet, however this Art may be negle&ted by the powerful, it is fill in greater danger from the mistaken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticisms have we not heard of late in favour of blank verse, and Pindaric odes-chorusses, anapests, and iambics-alliterative care and
happy negligence! Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it, and, as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to Say—for error is ever talkative.
But there is an enemy to this Art fill more dangerous--I mean Party. Party entirely diforts the judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infeEted with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what contributes increase the distemper. Like the tyger that seldom defifts from pursuing man after having once preyed upon human flesh, the Reader who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the most agreeable feast upon murdered reputation. Such Readers generally admire some half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character of a wife one: Him they dignify with the name of Poct—his tawdry lampoons are called fatires, his turbulence is said to be force, and his phrenzy fore.
What reception a Poem may find, which has neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My aims are right. Without espouḥng the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to Shew, that there may be equal happiness in fates that are differently governed from our own that every fate has a particular principle of happiness and that this principle in each may be carried to a milchievous excess. There are few can judge better than yourself how far thefe positions are illustrated in this poem.
I I am,