chapter  38
24 Pages

The Deserted Village

Races and Nations' in Royal Magazine, 11 (1760); see Friedman, 1966)

[88] To prevent destruction of life's vitality through proper rest. [89] still even then; still always. [93-6] Cf. 'The hare, in pastures or in plains is found,/ Emblem of human life, who runs the round;/ And, after all his wand'ring ways are done,/ His circle fills, and ends where he begun', Dryden, To my Honour'd Kinsman, John Driden, 11, 62-5. Dryden's lines point to the emblematic tradition of the Renaissance which both poets explore, though Goldsmith does it in a muted way. Within this tradition Donne's lines are relevant: 'Thy firm­ ness makes my circle just,/ And makes me end where I begun', A Valediction Forbidding Mourning, lines 35-6. The emblem of the circle marked not only perfection in human achievement, but also a 'homecom­ ing', or the final return. Cf. Gold­ smith's sentiments in Citizen of the World, Letter CHI:

There is something so seducing in that spot in which we first had existence, that nothing but it can please; whatever vicissitudes we experience in life, however we toil, or where­ soever we wander, our fatigued wishes still recur to home for tran­ quillity, we long to die in that spot which gave us birth, and in the pleas­ ing expectation opiate every calamity, (see Friedman, 1966)

[95] vexations troubles. [97-100] Cf. 'Happy next him who to these shades retires,/ Whom nature charms, and whom the Muse inspires,/ Whom humbler joys of home-felt quiet please,/ Successive study, exercise and ease', Pope, Win&sor-Forest, lines 237-40. The locus classicus of this and

other passages on rural retirement is in the second book of Virgil's Georgies; Dryden, in his rather free translation of Georgies, had made Virgil's ideas available in the poetic idiom of the Augustans. Thomson had reiterated these ideas in Winter, lines 600ff.: 'Then, even superior to ambition, we/ Would learn the private virtues - how to glide/ Through shades and plains along the smoothest stream/ Of rural life'. [99] Cf. 'And rural pleasures crown his happiness', Dryden, Georgies, ii, 658. [101-2] Cf. 'by struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds in the conflict. The only method to come off victorious, is by running away', Goldsmith, The Bee, No. ii (see Fried­ man, 1966). [104] tempt attempt, venture on; dangerous deep periphrastic reference for the ocean; very much part of the current poetic idiom; see: 'finny deep', Goldsmith, The Traveller, line 187. [105-6] Cf. 'The houses of the great are as inaccessible as a frontier garrison at mid-night. I never see a noble-man's door half opened that some surly porter or footman does not stand full in the breach', Goldsmith, Citizen of the World, Letter XXX (see Friedman, 1966). [108] befriending virtue's friend 'To virtue only, and her friends, a friend', Pope, Imitations of Horace, Satire, II, i, 121. [109] bends sinks; unperceived decay cf. 'An age that melts with unperceived decay', Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes, line 293, and: 'And varied life steal unperceived away', Johnson, Irene, II, vii, 91. [110] resignation Sir Joshua Reynolds gave the name Resignation to the engraving Thomas Warton made in 1772 of his picture of

'An Old Man', done in 1771. It was inscribed: 'This attempt to express a character in The Deserted Village, is dedicated to Dr. Goldsmith, by his sincere friend, and admirer Joshua Reynolds' (see Lonsdale, 1969). [111-12] His future becomes ever brighter, so that he is virtually in heaven before his death. [115] careless free from care, carefree; careless steps and slow Cf. 'with solemn pace and slow', Milton, Paradise Lost, xii, 648; 'with pensive steps and slow', Pope, Odyssey, xi, 397; see also: 'By timid steps, and slow', Pope, Dunciad, iv, 465. [117] responsive singing in response; The swain responsive Cf. 'responsive each to other's note', Milton, Paradise Lost, iv, 683; 'responsive to the cuckoo's note', Gray, Ode on the Spring, line 6. [118] sober herd solemn herd of cows; lowed bellowed. Cf. 'The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea', Gray, Elegy, line 2. [121] bayed followed with barking. [122] spoke proclaimed; vacant free from preoccu­ pation, not 'vacuous' as we would interpret it. [123] sweet pleasing; confusion blending, or mingling together. [124] each pause the nightingale had

made Goldsmith had characterised the nightingale's sound : 'Her note is soft, various, and interrupted; she seldom holds it without a pause above the time that one can count twenty. The nightingale's pausing song would be the proper epithet for this bird's music with us', Animated Nature (see Friedman, 1966). [125] the sounds of population fail In The Revolution in Low Life Goldsmith lamented the displacement of the village populations by wealthy

merchants from the big cities: I spent part of last summer in a little village, distant about fifty miles from town, consisting of near one hundred houses. . . Upon my first arrival I felt a secret pleasure in observing this happy community. . . But this satisfac­ tion was soon repressed, when I understood that they were shortly to leave this abode of felicity, of which they and their ancestors had been in possession for time immemorial, and that they had received orders to seek for a new habitation. 1 was informed that a merchant of immense fortune in London, who had lately purchased the estate on which they lived, intended to lay the whole out in a seat of pleasure for himself.