chapter  67
4 Pages

Wilhelm Adolf Lindau, German critic and author, introduces The Vicar of Wakefield in a new edition, 1825

The circumstances of his life, especially his youthful adventures, his early struggles and poverty, the short course of his brilliant, almost unparalleled, fame; all have been adequately studied and related by his countrymen ... 1

In this unltappy condition, almost destitute, he took his walking stick in his hand and a shirt in his pack. And with the almost incredible trust of a child to be clothed by lilies of the field, he expected to be, and was, fed by the ravens. Originally, only a walking tour through Belgium and France was projected, but his love of travel understandably awakened through the force of his early experiences and drove him much further. Into the heart of Europe he now wandered on foot, and it was a great part of Europe, too. In Chapter 20 of The Vicar of Wakefield he has doubtlessly drawn upon these autobiographical experiences, drawing, as it were, portions out of his own adventures. Here, also, he describes how he undertook, in Geneva, to guide the prospectively rich nephew of a London pawnbroker who separated away from him (Goldsmith) after a short while. Goldsmith, like George Primrose, whistled and argued his way through Flanders, Germany, and Italy; it is even likely that he went elsewhere and that for some unknown reason he does not communicate this to us in his Vicar. How regrettable, indeed, is it that he did not write an account of these travels; had he done so, they would certainly have provided the stuff of a most entertaining book. One wonders if, in his later years, Goldsmith did not reluctantly recollect all these youthful adventures. For he spent almost a full twelve months on these wanderings, until early 1756 when he returned to England.