chapter  23
1 Pages

Edmund Burke on Goldsmith’s pastoral images, in a letter to Richard Shackleton, 6 May 1780

Our Life is indeed a warfare. I keep up my Spirits as well as I can; and whilst I am in action they are well kept up; but my moments of rest are not always moments of quiet. I do not know any thing which would tend to make one forget all the disagreeable things which pass so much as a few calm moments with you at Beconsfield if I could get them; and though I should be happy in seeing any friend of yours, I think we should be rather more at home with yourself-but that shall be according to your pleasure.1 When you were here last we were chained to the Town.2 How that will be at your next coming I know not, for there is nothing with us altogether right. But you will see my Son who is a new accession to our Society and not the worst part of it. By the way I forgot, as indeed I forget many things which I ought to remember the pretty Poem you sent me about Ballitore.a It has that in it which I always consider as a mark of Genius-the turning to account the images and objects that one is familiar and conversant with-and not running all into repetition, or over improvement, {if that were possible) of the images which have struck others in other places and times. This latter shews, that people have little fire of their own, though they may be capable of kindling at the fire of others; and it does not mark them as good observers, though it may as retentive readers. What true and pretty Pastoral images has Goldsmith in his deserted Village-that 1 Shackleton (1728-1792) visited Beaconsfield alone but brought friends to breakfast with Burke in London. 2 Burke has been 'obliged to stay in London' when Shackleton had visited him in June 1776, but in any case Shackleton was reluctant to go to Beaconsfield. a By Mary Shackleton. Written in 1778, the poem appeared in her Poems published in 1808.