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[Part of the spring and summer of the year1771, Goldsmith passed at Gosfield and at Bath, with his friend Lord Clare. On his return from this visit he drew up the following amusing little
poem. It was not published till 1776, two years after his lecease. A second edition, with considerable additions and corrections, appeared in the same year. See Life, ch. xx.
The leading idea of the 'Haunch of Venison,' ” observes the Right Hon. J. W. Croker, in a communication to the editor, “is taken from Boileau's third Satire (which itself was no doubt suggested by Horace's raillery of the banquet of Nasidienus); and two or three of the passages which one would, à priori, have pronounced the most original and natural, are closely copied from the French poet :
• We'll have Johnson and Burke-all the wits will be there;
But, to be sure, Goldsmith's host, and his wife ‘Little Kitty,' and the Scot, and the ‘Jew, with his chocolate cheek,' are infinitely more droll and more natural than Boileau's deux campagnards. The details of the dinner, too, overdone and tedious in Boileau, are touched by Goldsmith with a pleasantry not carried too far."]
HAUNCH OF VENISON.
Thanks, my Lord, for your Ven’son; for finer or fatter, Never rang’d in a forest, or smok’d in a platter: The Haunch was a picture for painters to study, The fat was so white, and the lean was so ruddy ;(1) Though my stomach was sharp, I could scarce help
regretting, To spoil such a delicate picture by eating : I had thoughts in my Chambers to place it in view, To be shown to my friends as a piece of virtù; As in some Irish houses, where things are so-so, One gammon of bacon hangs up for a show; But, for eating a rasher of what they take pride in, They 'd as soon think of eating the pan it is fry'd in. (2) But hold—let me pause-Don't I hear you pronounce, This tale of the bacon a damnable bounce ? Well! suppose it a bounce—sure a poet may try, By a bounce now and then, to get courage to fly.
(1) (“The white was so white, and the red was so ruddy."-First edit.)
(2) [Nearly the same thought occurs in “ Animated Nature,” vol. iji. p. 9, as applicable to the peasantry of other countries : “ There is scarcely a cottage in Germany, Poland, and Switzerland, that is not hung round with these marks of hospitality; and which often makes the owner better contented with hunger, since he has it in his power to be luxurious when he thinks proper.
A piece of beef hung up there, is considered as an elegant piece of furniture, which, though seldom touched, at least argues the possessor's opulence and ease."]
But, my Lord, it's no bounce : I protest in my turn, It's a truth- and your lordship may ask Mr. Burn. (1)
go on with my tale-as I gaz'd on the Haunch, I thought of a friend that was trusty and staunch, So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undrest, To paint it, or eat it, just as he lik'd best. Of the neck and the breast I had next to dispose ; 'Twas a neck and a breast that might rival Monroe's : But in parting with these I was puzzled again, With the how, and the who, and the where, and the when. There's H-d, (2) and C-y, and H-rth, and H-ff, (3) I think they love ven son—I know they love beef. There's my countryman, Higgins-Oh! let him alone, For making a blunder, or picking a bone. But hang it—to poets, who seldom can eat, Your very good mutton's a very good treat ; Such dainties to them, their health it might hurt ; It's like sending them ruffles, when wanting a shirt. (4) While thus I debated, in reverie center'd, An acquaintance, a friend as he call’d himself, enter'd : An under-bred, fine-spoken fellow was he, And he smil'd as he look'd at the Ven'son and me. (5) “ What have we got here ?- Why, this is good eating ! Your own I suppose or is it in waiting ?" “Why, whose should it be?" cried I, with a flounce, “ I get these things often”—but that was a bounce :
(1) Lord Clare's nephew.
(2) [“ There's Coley, and Williams, and Howard, and Hift."-First edit.] (3) (Dr. Paul Hitfernan. For an account of this excentric character, see Life, ch. xx.)
(4) [" Such dainties to them! It would look like a flirt,
Like sending'em ruffles when wanting a shirt."--First edit.] (5) ["A fine-spoken Custom house officer he,
Who smil'd as he gaz'd on the Ven'son and me."-Ibid.]
“Some lords, my acquaintance, that settle the nation, Are pleas'd to be kind—but I hate ostentation.”
“ If that be the case then," cried he, very gay, “ I'm glad I have taken this house in my way. To-morrow you
dinner with me;
Left alone to reflect, having emptied my shelf, And “nobody with me at sea but myself,” (3) Though I could not help thinking my gentleman basty, Yet Johnson, and Burke, and a good Ven'son pasty, Were things that I never dislik’d in my life, Though clogged with a coxcomb, and Kitty his wife. So next day, in due splendour to make my approach, I drove to his door in my own hackney-coach.
When come to the place where we all were to dine, (A chair-lumber'd closet, just twelve feet by nine) ; My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb, With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come;
(1) (“ I'll take no denial-you shall and you must."-First edit.]
(2) ¡“No words, my dear Goldsmith ! my very good friend !"- Ibid.) (3) See the Letters that passed between his Royal Highness Henry, Duke of Cumberland, and Lady Grosvenor. 12mo. 1769.
o For I knew it,” he cried, “ both eternally fail,
At the top a fried liver and bacon were seen, At the bottom was tripe, in a swingeing tureen ; At the sides there was spinnage, and pudding made hot ; In the middle, a place where the Pasty-was not. (2) Now, my Lord, as for tripe, it's my utter aversion, And your bacon I hate like a Turk or a Persian ; So there I sat stuck like a horse in a pound, While the bacon and liver went merrily round: But what vex'd me most was that d-'d Scottish rogue, With his long-winded speeches, his smiles and his brogue, And, “ Madam," quoth he, “may this bit be my poison, A prettier dinner I never set eyes on ! Pray a slice of your liver, though may I be curst, But I've eat of your tripe till I'm ready to burst.” “ The tripe," quoth the Jew, with his chocolate cheek, “ I could dine on this tripe seven days in a week : (3) I like these here dinners, so pretty and small ; But your friend there, the Doctor, eats nothing at all.” “()-ho!" quoth my friend, “ he'll come on in a trice, He's keeping a corner for something that's nice ;
(1) ["Who dabble and write in the papers like you.”—First edit.)
I could eat of this tripe seven days in the week."