1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

Leigh Hunt, in Autobiography of Leigh Hunt (1850) 1:168.



Goldsmith enchanted me. I knew no end of repeating passages out of the Essays and the Citizen of the World, such as the account of the Club, with its babel of talk; of Beau Tibbs, with his dinner of ox-cheek which "his grace was so fond of;" and of the wooden-legged sailor, who regarded these that were lucky enough to have their "legs shot off" on board king's ships (which entitled them to a penny a day), as being "born with golden spoons in their mouths." Then there was his correct, sweet style; the village-paining in his poems; the Retaliation, which though on an artificial subject, seemed to me (as it yet seems) a still more genuine effusion; and, above all, the Vicar of Wakefield, with Burchell, whom I adored; and Moses, whom I would rather have been cheated with, than prosper; and the Vicar himself in his cassock, now presenting his Treatise against Polygamy (in the family picture) to his wife, habited as Venus; and now distracted for the loss of his daughter Sophia, who is seduced by the villainous baronet. I knew not whether to laugh at him, or cry with him, most.