페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

THE

TRAVELLER;

OR,

A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.

A POEM.

[“ The Traveller " was published in December 1764, and was the earliest production to which Goldsmith prefixed his name. As Dr. Johnson was the first to introduce it to the good opinion of the public, in a manner which could not fail to draw attention, it will not be uninteresting to look back at what he then said, and observe how perfectly all judges of poetry have concurred in his opinion :

“ The author has, in an elegant dedication to his brother, a country clergyman, given the design of his poem. • Without espousing the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavored to show that there may be equal happiness in other states, though differently governed from our own ; that each state has a peculiar principle of happiness, and that this principle in each state, and in our own in particular, may be carried to a mischievous excess.' That he may illustrate and enforce this important position, the author places himself on a summit of the Alps, and turning his eyes around in all directions, upon the different regions that lie before him, compares not merely their situation and policy, but those social and domestic manners which, afier a very few deductions, make the sum total of human life.

• Ev'n now where Alpine solitudes ascend,
I sit me down a pensive hour 10 spend;
And, plac'd on high above the storni's career,
Look downward where an hundred realms appear ;
Lakes, forests, cities, plains, extending wide,
The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
When thus Creation's charms around combine,
Amidst the store should thankless pride repine ?
Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
That good which makes each huinbler bosom vain?
Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
These little things are great to little man;
And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind

Exults in all the good of all mankind.' " The author already appears by his numbers to be a versifier, and by his scenery to be a poet; it therefore only remains that his sentiments discover him to be a just estimator of comparative happiness. The goods of life are either given by nature or procured by ourselves. Nature has distributed her gifts in very different proportions, yet all her children are content ; but the acquisitions of art are such as terminate in good or evil, its they are differently regulated or combined.

*Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
Still grants her bliss at Labor's earnest call ;
With food as well the peasant is supplied
On Ida's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side ;
And though the rocky crested suinmits frown,
Thiese rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
From Art more various are the blessings sent ;
Wealth, commerce, honor, liberty, content.
Yet these each other's power so strong contest,
'That either seems destructive of the rest.
Where wealth and freedoni reign, contentment fails,
And honor sinks where commerce lung prevails.
Hence every state to one lov'd blessing prone,

Conforms and models life to that alone.' " This is the position which he conducts through Italy, Switzerland, France, Holland, and England; and which he endeavors to confirm by remarking the manners of every country. Having censured the degeneracy of the modern Italiana, he proceeds thus:-

My soul, jurn from them; turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their storiny mansion tread,
And force a churli-he soil for scanty bread;
No produce here the burren lills afford,
But man and steel, the collier and his sword ;
No virnal Hooins their torpid rocks array,
But winter lingering chills ihr lap of May :
No Zephyr fondiy sues the mountain's breast,

But menos glare, and stormy glooms invest' " But having found that the rural life of a Swiss has its evils as well as comforts, he turns to l'rance:-"To kinder skirs, where gentler manners reign,

and France displays her bright domain.
(ay, prightly land of mirth and social case,
Pleasd with thyself, whou all the world can please.
So blest a lite use thoughtlema realis display,
Thus idle busy rolls their world away :
Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,
For honor forms thr social imple here.
llonor, that praice which real merit gains,
Or een imaginary worth obstans,
Herr passie's current ; pmid freun hand to hand,
Il shifts in skendo tral round the land;

I turn;

From courts to camps, to cottages it strays,
And all are taught an avarice of praise ;
They please, are pleas'd, they give to get esteem,

Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.
Yet France has its evils-

* For praise, too dearly lov’d, or warmly sought,

Enfeebles all internal strength of thought ;
And the weak soul, within itself unblest,
Leans for all pleasure on another's breast.
Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art,
Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart ;
Here vanity assumes her pert grimace,
And trims her robes of frieze with copper lace;
Ilere beggar pride defrauds her daily cheer,
To boast one splendid banquet once a year;
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,

Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.'
. Ha ig thus passed through Holland, he arrives at England-

· Stern o'er cach bosom Reason holds her state,
With daring aims irregularly great;
Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by ;
Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,

By forms unfashion'd fresh from Nature's hand.' With the inconveniences that harass the sons of freedom, this extract shall be concluded

• That independence Britons prize too high,
Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;
The self-dependent lordlings stand alone,
All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown ;
Here by the bonds of nature feebly held,
Minds combat minds, repelling and repell’d;
Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar,
Represt ambition struggles round her shore.
Nor this the worst As Nature's ties decay,
As duty, love, and honor fail to sway,
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.
Hence all obedience bows to those alone,
And talent sinks, and morit weeps unknown;
Till time may come, when stipt of all her charms,
The land of splnilare, all the more of arms :

« 이전계속 »