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are informed, received with shouts of approval : it adorns the end of Act IV., and Cato himself delivers it:
“ When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.”
Let any one fancy this profound axiom admitted as a rule of conduct, and then inquire what the result to the community would be. Every daring villain would tyrannize unopposed; and every honest and scrupulous individual be consigned to crawl and crouch amidst his own cabbages, pay his assessments, and return thanks to the gods for being graciously permitted to take the liberty of breathing the common air.
But the truth is, that Cato is little better than the production of any smart schoolboy of the fifth form.
As to Addison's business-talents, he had, in fact, none; he could not speak in public; neither, though a state secretary, could he write; but frittered away his time in a fastidious chase after neat and appropriate phraseology.
Of his moral deportment, it is not easy to set up a plausible defence. It may be traced by a reference to the work called “ Steele’s Correspondence ;” and in Johnson's “ Lives of the Poets," where it will be found tainted with low amour, devotion to the bottle, a marriage for the sake of worldly advancement, and unseemly squabbles with his patrician wife. I fear
lessly repeat, that Addison has had quite praise enough.
THE LIFE OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
BY THE REV. JOHN MITFORD.*
Page 7, note. “See a letter from R. J. Lloyd to Mr. Mangin.” Mr. Lloyd's letter, published in "An Essay on Light Reading,” is not to Mr. Mangin, but to the Reverend Annesley Strean.
Page 53, note. The author, quoting Best’s Personal Recollections, makes Mr. Best say, George Langton told me that he was present one day when Goldsmith, in a circle of good company, began with,” &c. George Langton could not with truth have told this story, he being barely three years old in 1774, when Goldsmith died. It might have been repeated by George's father, Bennett Langton.
Page 58. “This story (of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield) has been related with singular inaccuracy by Mrs. Piozzi, in her anecdotes of Johnson, and still more so by the Reverend Edmund Mangin, in his Essay on Light Reading.” Edward (not Edmund) Mangin is not answerable for the inaccuracy of this anecdote; though Mr. Mitford is, for inaccurately reading the passage referred to in the Essay,” which is expressly stated to be transcribed from Cumberland's Memoirs.
* London, 1831.
Pages 24, 26, of Goldsmith's Works :
“And Niagāra stuns with thundering sound.”
Goldsmith most probably knew that the name of the torrent is usually pronounced Niāgăra, but designedly chose the more harmonious accentuation.
“ Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel.”
On this verse the editor has a note : This appears to be a mistake: Luke and George Zeck, brothers, were both engaged in a desperate rebellion in Hungary, in 1514, and George suffered the torture of the red-hot crown of iron,” &c. But both historical truth and the measure of the poet would be preserved by using the surname of the unhappy sufferer :
“ Zeck's iron crown," &c.
Page 80, Works, note :
“ To slaughter I condemn."
This imperfect rhyme is the only defect in this sweet and simple poem (the Hermit).” The rhyme is not imperfect: the letter n never is, and never could be, pronounced in the word condemn; and rhyme is a question of sound, not of orthography. Page 86. Goldsmith's letter in the Daily Advertiser.
Lest it may be supposed that I have been willing to correct in others, an abuse of which I have been guilty of myself.” Most assuredly Goldsmith never wrote such a sentence as the foregoing; and the editor, who has so printed the passage, might have known as much.
I have frequently suspected that Oliver Goldsmith has been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented by his numerous biographers. Those who knew him personally, and have published any recollections of him, did not, it is to be supposed, comprehend either his individual or national peculiarities. In all likelihood, he was constitutionally testy, capricious, and morbidly alive to ridicule ; and through waywardness, and a secret wish to startle and irritate his associates, was constantly, as the phrase is, playing a part. The infantile simplicity of his manners—a characteristic of genius, invited the observation of the matter-of-fact men, the dul), and the worldlings around him; and his uncouth air, and Irish accent, prepared the company into which he entered for bulls and blunders of course.
That which would not have been counted a solecism from the lips of Reynolds or Beauclerk, was laughed at and derided when uttered by Goldsmith. Is it to be believed, that he whom Johnson and Burke applauded for talents and variety of talents, beyond his contemporaries, and in circles where intellectual greatness abounded; that he who wrote the History of Learning, the Animated Nature, the Essays, the Histories of Greece, of Rome, and of England, the two brilliant and well-known Comedies, the Vicar of Wakefield, the Hermit, the Traveller, the Deserted Village, &c.—that he could have been a butt for the derision of creatures so
mean and common as Boswell, and Tom Davis ; that he could have been an empty, prating coxcomb, without the power of reasoning conclusively, or constructing intelligible sentences in a convivial party?
About thirty years since, I knew an old literary man, a very keen observer too, who assured me that he had often been in company with Goldsmith, Johnson, Garrick, &c., and that Goldsmith used to have a crowd of listeners about his seat, and was a shrewd and eloquent converser.
BATTLE OF BOSWORTH FIELD.
BY WM. HUTTON.*
This is rather a curious work, and sufficiently entertaining to admit of being read more than once. But the author falls in with the popular prejudice against King Richard III., without appearing to remember, that, as far as character is concerned, almost every thing in history is incomplete and erroneous; and that the story of no individual of eminence abounds more in misrepresentation than that of Richard. To obtain any true idea of him, we must refer to actions neither disproved nor doubted; and to such facts as are alleged without any obvious motive, respecting him.
The historians of Henry VII.'s day destroyed nearly all the records of Richard, in order to cultivate the good-will of their master; and the more to flatter
* Second Edition, London, 1813.