صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

"To wake the soul, by tender strokes of art; To raise the genius, and to mend the heart."

An encomium in which it is to be lamented so very few can share with him.

It would not be easy to find, within the compass of light literature, any thing more perfect in its kind than the scene unfolded in the opening chapters of the Vicar of Wakefield: it abounds in strokes of humour and tenderness; and fixes the attention by a most affecting picture of a happy home, enjoyed by persons in the middle rank of life, citizens of a free country, and possessing competent means and innocent minds.

The group of characters, their circumstances, and local situation, are truly

English, and could only belong to the enviable land within whose confines the scene is laid.

In England alone, amongst the nations of the earth, could such an individual as the vicar be supposed. Idolatry, Mahometanism, and superstition have indeed their priests; and the minister of religion exists alike under the fervour of Indian skies, and in the twilight of Lapland; in the cloisters of Madrid, and the conventicles of Philadelphia: but England only can exhibit the

original from which the inimitable portrait of Dr. Primrose is taken.

He is drawn as pious, learned, charitable, hospitable; fearless in the cause of sanctity and rectitude; in affliction, at once magnanimous and resigned; in prosperity, grateful and humble; a kind and sympathizing neighbour; a most affectionate parent; and, as a pastor, almost worshipped for his virtues by the flock under his care.

As a shade, to counteract the dazzling effect of so much excellence, his learning is represented as not quite unmixed with inoffensive pedantry; and

the awe inspired by his good natural understanding, is admirably tempered with a very endearing cast of simplicity; and the solemnity of his deportment relieved, by a well-managed introduction of comic traits.

If any thing can equal this portrait of the vicar, it is the delicacy with which his story is related; and the art shown by the author in conducting the personages of his fable through various vicissitudes, without the least appearance of exaggeration or force. The reader sheds tears at their sorrows, and exults in their restoration to felicity: but the

depression of spirits created by the perusal has in it nothing shocking, nothing disgusting; it is rather the “luxury of grief:" and the most unsullied chastity may, without self-reproach, smile at all the pleasantries of Goldsmith.

This dexterity in the author of a novel cannot be too highly praised; particularly if we consider the period when Goldsmith wrote, the opportunities his own hard lot in life had afforded him of becoming acquainted with every phrase of vulgar humour, and how strongly (had he pleased to do so) he

« السابقةمتابعة »