1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

William Hazlitt, in Select British Poets (1824); Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:241-42.



GOLDSMITH, both in verse and prose, was one of the most delightful writers in the language. His verse flows like a limpid stream. His ease is quite unconscious. Everything in him is spontaneous, unstudied, yet elegant, harmonious, graceful, nearly faultless. Without the point of refinement of Pope, he has more natural tenderness, a greater suavity of manner, a more genial spirit. Goldsmith never rises into sublimity, and seldom sinks into insipidity, or stumbles upon coarseness. His Traveller contains masterly national sketches. The Deserted Village is sometimes spun out into a mawkish sentimentality; but the characters of the Village Schoolmaster, and the Village Clergyman, redeem a hundred faults. His Retaliation is a poem of exquisite spirit, humour, and freedom of style.