Page images


To cure the mind's wrong bias, spleen, Some recommend the bowling-green; Some hilly walks : all, exercise ; Fling but a stone, the giant dies. Laugh and be well. Monkeys have been Extreme good doctors for the spleen; And kittens, if the humor hit, Have harlequind away the fit.

If spleen fogs rise at close of day,
I clear my evening with a play,
Or to some concert take my way,
The company, the shine of lights,
The scenes of humor, music's flights,
Adjust, and set the soul to rights.

In rainy days keep double guard,
Or spleen will surely be too hard;
Which, like those fish by sailors met,
Fly highest while their wings are wet.
In such dull weather so unfit
To enterprise a work of wit,
When clouds one yard of azure sky,
That's fit for simile, deny,
I dress my face with studious looks,
And shorten tedious hours with books
But when dull fogs invade the head,
That mem'ry minds not what is read,
I sit in window dry as ark,
And on the drowning world remark;
Or to some coffee-house I stray
For news, the manna of a day,
And from the hipp'd discourses gather,
That politics go by the weather.
Then seek good-humor'd tavern chums,
And play at cards, but for small sums
Or with the merry fellows quaff,
And laugh aloud with them that laugh ;
Or drink a joco-serious cup
With souls who've took their freedom up,
And let my mind, beguild by talk,
In Epicurus' garden walk,
Who thought it head'n to be serene ,
Pain, hall; and purgatory, spleen

Sometimes I dress, with women sit,
and chat away the gloomy fit;
Quit the stiff garb of serious sense,
And wear a gay impertinence.

Permit, ye fair, your idol-form, Which e'en the coldest heart can warm, May with its beauties grace my line, While I bow down before its shrine, And your throng'd altars with my lays Perfume, and get by giving praise. With speech so sweet, so sweet a mien, You excommunicate the spleen, Which fiend-like flies the magic ring You form with sound, when pleas'd to sing. Whate'er you say, howe'er you move, We look, we listen, and approve. Your touch, which gives to feeling bliss, Our nerves officious throng to kiss. By Celia's pat, on their report, The grave-air’d soul, inclin'd to sport, Renounces wisdom's sullen pomp, And loves the floral game, to romp But who can view the pointed rays, That from black eyes scintillant blaze ! Love on his throne of glory seems Encompass'd with satellite beams. But when blue eyes, more softly bright. Diffuse benignly humid light, We gaze, and see the smiling loves, And Cytherea's gentle doves, And raptur'd fix in such a face Love's mercy-seat and throne of grace. Shine but on age, you melt its snow; Again fires long-extinguish'd glow, And charm’d by witchery of eyes, Blood long congealèd liquefies ! True miracle, and fairly done By heads which are ador'd while on.?

Such thoughts as love the gloom of nigk' I close examine by the light; For who, though brib'd by gain to lie, Dare sunbeam-written truths deny, And execute plain common sense On faith's mere hearsay evidence?

That superstition mayu't create,
And club its ills with those of fate,
I many a notion take to task,
Made dreadful by its visor mask.
Thus scruple, spasm of the mind,
Is curd, and certainly I find ;
Since optic reason shows me plain,
I dreaded spectres of the brain;
And legendary fears are gone,
Though in tenacious childhood sown.
Thus in opinions I commence
Freeholder in the proper sense,
And neither suit nor service do,
Nor homage to pretenders show,
Who boast themselves, by spurious roll,
Lords of the manor of the soul ;
Preferring sense, from chin thať s bare,
To nonsense thron'd in whisker'd hair.

Thus, then, I steer my bark, and sail
On even keel with gentle gale;
At helm I make my reason sit,
My crew of passions all submit.
If dark and blust'ring prove some nights,
Philosophy puts forth her lights ;
Experience holds the cautious glass,
To shun the breakers, as I pass,
And frequent throws the wary lead,
To see what dangers may be hid;
And once in seven years I'm seen
At Bath or Tunbridge to careen.
Though pleas’d to see the dolphins play,
I mind my compass and my way.3
With store sufficient sor belief,
And wisely still prepar'd to reef,
Nor wanting the dispersive bowl
Of cloudy weather in the soul,
I make (may Heav'n propitious send
Such wind and weather to the end)
Veither becalm'd nor overblown,
Life's voyage to the world unknown.

* The disorder here called the Spleen, was of old called Melan. choly, or Hypochondria ; then it became Vapors or the Hyp, then the Spleen, then the Nerves or Low Spirits. The designa.



tion now varies between Nerves and Biliousness. Melancholy signifies Black Bile, as Hypochondria does a region of the stomach; and there is no doubt that all the disorders, great and small, connected with low spirits, are traceable to the stomach and state of digestion, sometimes in consequence of anxiety or too much thought, oftener from excess, and want of exercise. Too much eating (sometimes wrongly exchanged for too little) is the unromantic cause of nine-tenths of the romantic melancholies in existence. Your pie crust is a greater caster of shadows over this life, than all the platonical “ prison houses” the poets talk of.

3By heads which are ador'd while on.”—A felicitous allusion to the imposture of St. Januarius, a cheat still practised at Naples. Clotted blood is brought forward in a vial; and at the approach of the head of the saint it is pretended to liquefy.

3 This couplet was quoted by Johnson in the course of some excellent advice given to Boswell.—See his Life, edit. 1839, vol. vii., p. 287.

Boswell. By associating with you, sir, I am always getting an accession of wisdom. But perhaps a man, after knowing his own character—the limited strength of his own mind-should not be desirous of having too much wisdom, considering, quid valeant humeri, how little he can carıy.

Johnson. Sir, be as wise as you can; let a man be aliis lætus, sapiens sibi :

- Though pleas'd to see the dolphins play,

I mind my compass and my way." You may be wise in your study in the morning, and gay in company at a tavern in the evening. Every man is to take care of his own wisdom and his own virtue, without minding too much what others think.

[ocr errors]


BORN, 1729.-DIED, 1774.

GOLDSMITH is so delightful a writer, that the general impression on his readers is that of his having been a perfect sort of man, at least for amiableness and bonhomie, and the consequence is, that when they come to be thoroughly acquainted with his life and works, especially the critical portion, they are startled to find him partaking of the frailties of his species and the jealousies of his profession. So much good, however, and honesty, and siin. plicity, and such an abundance of personal kindness, still remain, and it seems likely that so much of what was weak in him origi. nated in a painful sense of his want of personal address and attractiveness, that all harsh conclusions appear as ungracious as they are uncomfortable: we feel even wanting in gratitude to one who has so much instructed and entertained us; and hasten, for the sake of what is weak as well as strong in ourselves, to give all the old praise and honor to the author of the Vicar of Wake field and the Deserted Village. We are obliged to confess that the Vicar, artless and delightful as he is, is an inferior brother of Parson Adams; and that there are great improbabilities in the story. But the family manners, and the Flamboroughs, and Moses, are all delicious; and the style of writing perfect. Again, we are forced to admit, that the Traveller and Deserted Village are not of the highest or subilest order of poetry; yet they are charming of their kind, and as perfect in style as his prose. They are cabinets of exquisite workmanship, which will outlast hundreds of oracular shrines of oak ill put together. Goldsmith's

« PreviousContinue »