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experiences in the descriptive passages of “The Traveller" than in the critical apothegms of "An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe."
The “Enquiry,” however, had one salutary effect : it attracted some of the more sagacious of the bookselling trade to the freshness and vivacity of the writer's manner. Towards the close of 1759 he is contributing both prose and verse to three periodicals, The Bee, The Lady's Magazine, and The Busy Body. The first two were published by J. Wilkie, at the Bible in St. Paul's Churchyard; the last, a paper in the old Spectator form—for which Goldsmith wrote, among other things, an excellent essay on the Clubs of London-by one Pottinger. But the fullest exhibition of his growing strength and variety is to be found in the eight, or rather the seven numbers, since the last is mainly borrowed, of The Bee, further described as “a select Collection of Essays on the most Interesting and Entertaining Subjects.” The motto was
“Floriferis ut apes saltibus omnia libant
Omnia nos itidem,”
from Lucretius, and it was issued in threepenny parts, twelve forming "a handsome pocket volume,” to which was to be prefixed the orthodox “ emblematical frontispiece.” Some of the contents were merely translations from Voltaire, upon whose “Memoirs,” we know, Goldsmith had recently been working ; some, such as “The History of Hypatia," the heroine of Charles Kingsley's novel, were historical and biographical ; others again,-for example, "The Story of Alcander
, and Septimius,” and “Sabinus and Olinda,”—were more
or less original. But the distinctive feature of the book is the marked ability of its critical and social sketches. The theatrical papers, with their neat contrast between French and English actors, as regards what, in “The Deserted Village,” the author calls “gestic lore,” their excellent portrait of Mademoiselle Clairon, their shrewd discerning of stage improprieties, and their just appreciation of “High Life below Stairs,” are still well worth reading. Not less excellent are the capital character sketches, after the manner of Addison and Steele, of Jack Spindle, with his “many friends,” and “my Cousin Hannah” in all the glories of her white negligée, her wintry charms, and her youthful finery. In a paper “On the Pride and Luxury of the Middling Class of People,” he anticipates certain of the later couplets of his didactic poems; in another, “On the Sagacity of some Insects,” he gives a foretaste of that delicate and minute habit of observation which dictated not a few of the happier pages of "The History of Animated Nature,” while in an account of the Academies of Italy, he reverts to the theme of the "Enquiry.” Among the remaining papers two chiefly deserve notice. One, “A City NightPiece," a title obviously suggested by Parnell, is tremulous with that unfeigned compassion for the miseries of his kind with which he had walked the London streets; the other, a semi-allegoric sketch in No. V., a little in the Lucianic spirit of Fielding's “ Journey from this World to the Next," is interesting for its references to some of his contemporaries. It is entitled "A Reşverie,” in which the luminaries of literature are figured as passengers by a stage-coach, christened “The Fame Machine.” The coachman has just returned from his last trip to the Temple of Fame, having carried as passengers Addison, Swift, Pope, Steele, Congreve, and Colley Cibber, and the journey has been accomplished with no worse mishap than a black eye given by Colley to Mr. Pope. (Had Fielding been of the party, as he should have been, that black eye would certainly have been repaid !) Among the next batch of candidates are Hill, the quack author of “ The Inspector," and the dramatist Arthur Murphy, both of whom are declined by Jehu. Hume, who is refused a seat for his theological essays, obtains one for his history; and Smollett, who fails with his history, succeeds with his novels. Another intending passenger is Johnson, and the page describing his proceedings is worth quoting for its ingenious tissue of praise and blame :
“This was a very grave personage, whom at some distance I took for one of the most reserved, and even disagreeable figures I had seen ; but as he approached, his appearance improved, and when I could distinguish him thoroughly, I perceived, that, in spite of the severity of his brow, he had one of the most good-natured countenances that could be imagined. Upon coming to open the stage door, he lifted a parcel of folios into the seat before him, but our inquisitorial coachman at once shoved them out again. “What, not take in my dictionary!' exclaimed the other in a rage.
Be patient, sir,' (replyed the coachman) 'I have drove a coach, man and boy, these two thousand years; but I do not remember to have carried above one dictionary during the whole
time. That little book which I perceive peeping from one of your pockets, may I presume to ask what it contains ?' 'A mere trifle,' (replied the author) it is called the Rambler.' "The Rambler !' (says the coachman) 'I beg, sir, you'll take your place; I have heard our ladies in the court of Apollo frequently mention it with rapture; and Clio, who happens to be a little grave, has been
; heard to prefer it to the Spectator; though others have observed, that the reflections, by being refined, sometimes become minute.''
At this date (November, 1759) there seems to have been no personal acquaintance between Johnson, whose “Rasselas” had followed hard upon the “Enquiry," and the still obscure essayist of Green Arbour Court. But the friendship between the two was not now to be long deferred, and may indeed have been hastened by the foregoing tribute from the younger man.
There is one feature of Goldsmith's labours for Messrs. Wilkie and Pottinger which deserves a final word. Scattered through The Bee and The Busy Body are several pieces of verse, which, if we except a translation of part of a Latin prologue from Macrobius, included in the first edition of the “Enquiry," constitute the earliest of Goldsmith's published poetical works. Only one of these, some not very remarkable quatrains on the death of Wolfe, can be said to be original ; the rest are imitations. “The Logicians Refuted " is indeed so
. close a copy of Swift as to have been included by Scott among that writer's works; the others, with one exception,
; are variations from the French. They comprise two wellknown examples of the author's lighter manner. In "The Gift: To Iris, in Bow-Street, Covent Garden," he manages to marry something of Gallic vivacity to the numbers of Prior; in the “Elegy on Mrs. Mary Blaize," borrowing a trick from the old song of M. de la Palisse, and an epigrammatic finish from Voltaire, he contrives to laugh anew at the many imitators of Gray. If they do no more, these trifles at least serve to show that the lightness of touch, which is one of his characteristics, had not been studied exclusively on English soil.