« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize, More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train ; He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain. The long-remembered beggar was his guest, Whose beard descending swept his aged breast; The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed; The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay, Sat by his fire, and talked the night away, Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done, Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won. Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow, And quite forgot their vices in their woe; Careless their merits or their faults to scan, His pity gave ere charity began. “Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride, And e'en his failings leaned to Virtue's side ; But, in his duty prompt at every call, He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all ; And, as a bird each fond endearment tries To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies, He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way. “Beside the bed where parting life was laid, And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismayed, The reverend champion stood. At his control Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul; Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whispered praise. “At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Probably The Vicar of Wakefield and The Deserted Village will outlive all else that Goldsmith ever wrote, but neither of these won him such success during his life as his comedies, She Stoops to Conquer and The GoodNatured Man. Best of these is She Stvops to Conquer, which deserved its success. It is a play whose situations are mirthful and innocent, and whose characters are laughable, without being coarse. The drama had made great improvement in purity during the century which began with Congreve and Farquhar; and the work of Gold
1751-1816 smith in She Stoops to Conquer and The GoodNatured Man, followed by RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN'S plays, The Rivals and The School for Scandal, did more to elevate the stage than many sermons had yet been able to do. And we may count it as one of the chief merits of a writer so versatile as Goldsmith that his wit was pure and wholesome, his pathos true and not morbid, and that few men have written so little that in the interests of morality we could wish to blot.
ON THE FIRST WOMAN NOVELIST.
N the year 1778 the whole reading world was agitated
lina. Everybody read it with delight, and it was pronounced a wonderful picture of the times. All London was occupied in guessing what new author had burst into fame, and everybody was praising him, and wondering about him, when it was whispered from one to another that a young lady, Miss FANNY BURNEY, had
1752-1840 written this book, and Miss Burney at once became the heroine of the hour. Dr. Johnson's friend Mrs. Thrale sent and invited her to tea, where the great Doctor sat beside her and paid her extravagant compliments. Edmund Burke, the statesman, sat up all night to read her book ; Sir Joshua Reynolds, the painter, declared he would give fifty pounds to know the author; and praises were showered upon her by readers great and little. We, who read every year dozens of novels far cleverer than Evelina, may find it difficult to understand this furor. But we must remember that no English woman had ever before written a novel, and that Evelina was more natural in style than were Richardson's novels, and much more delicate and refined than Fielding's; and then we shall not be surprised at the wonder as well as the delight with which it was welcomed. The young ladies who had been reading Tom Jones or the more delicate pages of Clarissa Harlowe could read Evelina without a blush ; and the artlessness and innocence of the heroine would win the heart of the severest critic.
Evelina, a girl of sixteen, bred in a country parsonage, is taken to London by some friends, and all at once ushered into the gay life of that city as it was a century ago. Soon after her arrival in London, Evelina goes with her friends, Mrs. Mirvan and her daughter Maria, to a ball, of which she writes next day the following account to her guardian in the country : –
“ We came home from the ridotto so late, or rather so early, that it was not possible for me to write. Indeed, we did not go
- you will be frightened to hear it — till past eleven o'clock; but nobody does. A terrible reverse of the order of nature ! We sleep with the sun, and wake with the moon.
“The room was very magnificent, the lights and decorations were brilliant, and the company gay and splendid. But I should have told you that I made many objections to being of the party, according to the resolution I had formed. However, Maria laughed me out of my scruples, and so once again I went to an assembly.
“ Miss Mirvan was soon engaged; and presently after, a very fashionable, gay-looking man, who seemed about thirty years of age, addressed himself to me, and begged to have the honor of dancing with me. Now, Maria's partner was a gentleman of Mrs. Mirvan's acquaintance; for she had told us it was highly improper for young women to dance with strangers at any public assembly. Indeed, it was by no means my wish so to do;
yet I did not like to confine myself from dancing at all ; neither did I dare refuse this gentleman, and then, if any acquaintance should offer, accept him ; and so, all these reasons, combining, induced me to tell him — yet I blush to write it to you! — that I was already engaged; by which I meant to keep myself at liberty to dance or not, as matters should fall out.
“I suppose my consciousness betrayed my artifice, for he looked at me as if incredulous; and, instead of being satisfied with my answer, and leaving me, according to my expectation, he walked at my side, and, with the greatest ease imaginable, began a conversation in the free style which only belongs to old and intimate acquaintance. But, what was most provoking, he asked me a thousand questions concerning the partner to whom I was engaged. And at last he said, “ Is it really possible that a man whom you have honored with your acceptance can fail to be at hand to profit from your goodness?'
“ I felt extremely foolish, and begged Mrs. Mirvan to lead me to a seat ; which she very obligingly did. The captain (her husband) sat next her; and, to my great surprise, this gentleman thought proper to follow and seat himself next to me.
66 • What an insensible!' continued he; "why, madam, you are missing the most delightful dance in the world !
The man must be either mad or a fool. Which do you incline to think him yourself?'
"Neither, sir,' answered I, in some confusion.
“He begged my pardon for the freedom of his supposition, saying, “I really was off my guard, from astonishment that any man can be so much and so unaccountably his own enemy. But where, madam, can he possibly be ? Has he left the room? or has not he been in it?"
" • Indeed, sir,' said I, peevishly, “I know nothing of him.'
"I don't wonder that you are disconcerted, madam ; it is really very provoking. The best part of the evening will be absolutely lost. He deserves not that you should wait for him.' "I do not, sir,' said I, “and I beg you not to
Mortifying indeed, madam, interrupted he; "a lady to wait for a gentleman! Oh, fie, careless fellow! What can detain him ? Will you give me leave to seek him ?'
“ . If you please, sir,' answered I, quite terrified lest Mrs. Mirvan should attend to him; for she looked very much surprised at seeing me enter into conversation with a stranger. “ With all my heart,' cried he; 'pray, what coat has he on?' "Indeed, I never looked at it.'
"" Out upon him!' cried he; “what! did he address you in a coat not worth looking at? What a shabby wretch!'
“ How ridiculous! I really could not help laughing, - which, I fear, encouraged him, for he went on,
“Charming creature ! and can you really bear ill-usage with so much sweetness ? Can you, like Patience on a monument, smile in the midst of disappointment ? For my part, though I am not the offended person, my indignation is so great that I long to kick the fellow round the room ! - unless, indeed' (hesitating, and looking earnestly at me), "unless, indeed, it is a partner of
your own creating.' “I was dreadfully abashed, and could not make any answer.
“ • But no!’cried he again, and with warmth, “it cannot be that you are so cruel! Softness itself is painted in your eyes. You could not, surely, have the barbarity so wantonly to trifle with my misery.'
“I turned away from this nonsense with real disgust. Mrs. Mirvan saw my confusion, but was perplexed what to think of it, and I could not explain to her the cause, lest the captain should hear me. I therefore proposed to walk; she consented, and we all rose. But – would you believe it? — this man had the assurance to rise too, and walk close by my side, as if of my party!
Now,' cried he, 'I hope we shall see this ingrate. Is that he, pointing to an old man who was lame, 'or that?' And in this manner he asked me of whoever was old or ugly in the room. I made no sort of answer; and when he found that I was resolutely silent, and walked on as much as I could without observing him, he suddenly stamped his foot, and cried out in a passion, “ Fool! Idiot! Booby!'
“ I turned hastily toward him. 'Oh, madam,' continued he, 'forgive my vehemence; but I am distracted to think there should exist a wretch who can slight a blessing for which I would forfeit my life! Oh that I could but meet him! I would
But I grow angry; pardon me, madam: my passions are violent, and your injuries affect me!'
“I began to apprehend he was a madman, and stared at him with the utmost astonishment. 'I see you are moved, madam,' said he;
'generous creature ! — but don't be alarmed; I am cool again, I am indeed, — upon my soul, I am ; I entreat you, most lovely of mortals! I entreat you to be easy.'
66 Indeed, sir,' said I, very seriously, “I must insist upon your leaving me; you are quite a stranger to me, and I am both unused and averse to your language and your manners.'