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The serpents round about it twin'd,
And here my simile almost tript; Yet grant a word by way of postscript. Moreover Merc'ry had a failing : Well! what of that? out with it-stealing; In which all modern bards agree, Being each as great a thief as he: But ev'n this deity's existence Shall lend my simile assistance. Our modern bards ! why, what a pox Are they—but senseless stones and blocks ?
When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray;
What art can wash her guilt away?
* First printed in the “ Vicar of Wakefield,” in 1766.]
The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
And wring his bosom-is to die.*
ON THE DEATH OF A MAD DOG.I
Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song ;
It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say,
Whene'er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes ;
[“This specimen of Goldsmith's poetical powers is wonderfully pathetic. It is sweet as music, and polished like a gem.”—Mrs. BarbauLD.)
† (First printed in the “ Vicar of Wakefield,” 1766, though probably written at an earlier period; perhaps in 1760, as we find in the “Citizen of the World,” (see vol. ii. p. 287,) an amusing paper in which Goldsmith ridicules the fear of mad dogs as one of those epidemic terrors to which the people of England are occasionally prone.]
And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be, Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends ;
But when a pique began,
Went mad, and- bit the man.
Around from all the neighboring streets
The wondering neighbors ran,
To bite so good a man.
The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
To every Christian eye; And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light,
That show'd the rogues they lied; The man recover'd of the bite,
The dog it was that died.
Here lies poor Ned Purdon, from misery freed,
Who long was a bookseller's hack;
I don't think he'll wish to come back.*
* (Purdon died suddenly in Smithfield, in March 1767. He was the college friend of Goldsmith. Being of a thoughtless turn, he enlisted as a private soldier after quitting the University ; but becoming tired of this mode of life, he commenced professional writer in London, and renewed his acquaintance with the Poet, of whose bounty he frequently partook, and is believed to have been the cause of some of the difficulties and imprudences of his good-natured friend. He died as he had lived-in penury; and it was, perhaps, with reference to him and others whom Goldsmith had known in the same unfortunate situation, and it is to be feared with the remembrance of some sufferings of his own, that we find the following passage on the effects of hunger in his Animated Nature :-—" The lower race of animals, when satisfied for the instant moment, are perfectly happy; but it is otherwise with man: his mind anticipates distress, and feels the pangs of want even before it arrests him. Thus the mind being continually harassed by the situation, it at length influences the constitution, and unfits it for all its functions. Some cruel disorder, but no way like hunger, seizes the unhappy sufferer; so that almost all those men who have thus long lived by chance, and whose every day may be considered as a happy escape from famine, are known at last to die in reality of a disorder caused by hunger, but which, in common langaage, is often called a broken heart. Some of these I have known myself when very little able to relieve them.”—See Life, ch. vii.)
COMEDY OF THE SISTER..
What ? five long acts—and all to make us wiser ?
[To Boxes, Pit, and Gallery.
(Written by Mrs. Charlotte Lennox, and represented at Covent Garden Theatre, in Januray 1769. The plot was taken from the authoress's own novel entitled Henrietta.” The audience expressed their disapprobation of it with so much clamor and appearance of prejudice, that she would not suffer an attempt to exhibit it a second time. She published it without either remonstrance or complaint.—See Gent. Mag. vol. xxxix. p. 199.]
“ There are but two decent prologues in our tongue-Pope's to CatoJohnson's to Drury Lane. These, with the epilogue to the Distrest Mother, and, I think, one of Goldsmith's, and a prologue of old Colman's to Beaumont and Fletcher's Philaster, are the best things of the kind we have."-LORD BYRON, Works, vol. ii. p. 165.]