Goldsmith - Beau Tibbs & Mrs. Tibbs - The Citizen of the World Letters XV &XVI

Page XV

     KGOLD SMITH. XV noting, with philosophic sympathy, the pastimes of a foreign peasantry; and another, studying the operations of a spider at his garret window,- now busy in nomenclating the peculiarities of the Dutch, and anon, alluding to the exhibition of Cherokee Indians. The natural effect of this thirst for experimental knowledge, was to begret a love for foreign travel. Accordingly, we find that Goldsmith, after exhausting the narrow circle which his limited means could compass at home, projected a continental tour, and long cherished the hope of visiting the East. Indeed, we could scarcely have a stronger proof of his enthusiasm, than the long journey he undertook and actually accomplished on foot. The remembrance of his romantic wanderings over Holland, France, Germany, and Italy, imparts a singular interest to his writings. It was, indeed, worthy of a true poet that, enamored of nature and delighting in the observation of his species, he should thus manfully go forth, with no companion but his flute, and wander over these fair lands hallowed by past associations and existent beauty. A rich and happy era, despite its moments of discomfort, to such a spirit, was that year of solitary pilgrimage. Happy and proud must have been the imaginative pedestrian, as he reposed his weary frame in the peasant's cottage "beside the murmuring Loire;" and happier still when he stood amid the green valleys of Switzerland, and looked around upon her snow-capt hills, hailed the old towers of Verona, or entered the gate of Florence - the long-anticipated goals to which his weary footsteps had so patiently tended. If anything could enhance the pleasure of musing amid these scenes of' poetic interest, it must have been the consciousness of having reached them by so gradual and self-denying a progress. There is, in truth, no more characteristic portion of Goldsmith's biography, than that which 

Page XVI

     XVi INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. records this remarkable tour; and there are few more striking instances of the available worth of talent. Unlike the bards of old, he won not his way to shelter and hospitality by appealing to national feeling; for the lands through which he roamed were not his own, and the lay of the last minstrel had long since died away in oblivion. But he gained the ready kindness of the peasantry by playing the flute, as they danced in the intervals of toil; and won the favor of the learned by successful disputation at the convents and universities - a method of rewarding talent which was extensively practised in Europe at that period. Thus, solely befriended by his wits, the roving poet rambled over the continent, and, notwithstanding the vicissitudes incident to so precarious a mode of seeing the world, to a mind like his, there was ample compensation in the superior opportunities for observation thus afforded. He mingled frankly with the people, and saw things as they were. The scenery which environed him flitted not before his senses, like the shifting scenes of a panorama, but became familiar to his eye under the changing aspects of time and season. IManners and customs he quietly studied, with the advantage of sufficient opportunity to institute just comparisons and draw fair inferences. In short, Goldsmith was no tyro in the philosophy of travel; and, although the course he pursued was dictated by necessity, its superior results are abundantly evidenced throughout his works. We have, indeed, no formal narrative of his journeyings; but what is better, there is scarcely a page thrown off; to supply the pressing wants of the moment, which is not enriched by some pleasing reminiscence or sensible thought, garnered from the recollection and scenes of that long pilgarimage. Nor did he fail to embody the prominent impressions of so interesting an epoch of his checkered life, in a more en

for more please click the link Book Text

Post a Comment