Page images

the "Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning." This is a characteristic work; but Goldsmith, did not live to see the second edition of it issued; and the reprint with its very material alterations, which appeared shortly after his death, is not so illustrative of its author's mind as is the edition of 1759. I have been careful to mark all the variations of any moment. Some are of importance to the due understanding of Goldsmith's career, and all contain useful lessons to the student of English prose. This labour had been very negligently executed in Mr. Wright's reprint. Indeed I doubt whether some of the alterations in the edition of 1774 are the alterations of Goldsmith.

"The Bee," an unsuccessful and short-lived periodical publication, wholly edited by Goldsmith, I have reprinted entire-Voltaire's letters excepted. After the discontinuance of the work, the papers were published in a small volume without the name of the author. When Goldsmith collected his "Essays" he drew largely upon "The Bee," but he also pruned his redundancies with a skilful pen. By printing "The Bee," as it first appeared, and the volume of "Essays" as finally corrected by their author, I have enabled the reader to trace the history of the author's mind-and while true to his sense, am thus I hope still truer to his fame.

Of Goldsmith's four biographies, the best by far is his “Life of Beau Nash." It is written in an appropriately jaunty style, the author at every turn illustrating his subject in the happiest manner, and, even in thus doing perfect justice to it, revealing a quiet consciousness that the hero of his story was one hardly deserving much commemoration. The knowledge of life exhibited in this performance is greatly to be admired. It is written with care, and finished more through happiness than pains-though the pains were great, as any one may see who will take the trouble to compare, as I have done, the two editions of 1762. But former editors have not troubled themselves with the second edition, and consequently have

missed whole pages of new matter, with some excellent additional stories and verbal corrections, that betray the pen of the careful writer. I need not say that the text of my reprint is that of the second edition. The text of Mr. Wright has many inexplicable omissions even from the first edition.

I have also made room for the admission of a few select passages from Goldsmith's "History of Animated Nature,"-of all his hack labours for booksellers that which seems to have been written with the greatest good-will. The work contains many exquisite passages, and as it is not very probable that it will ever be reprinted in extenso, those passages in which the writer appears to the greatest advantage richly deserve to find a place in any edition of his writings. I would have introduced extracts from his other numerous compilations could I have found any that I could with equal propriety present in such fragments. I have, however, added one of the letters from his "History of England," as a specimen (and it is a good one) of his style in what was then a new kind of writing.


The periodical contributions of Goldsmith to The Monthly Review and The Critical Review were first added to Goldsmith's works in the edition of 1837, where they are mixed together as Miscellaneous Criticisms,' and 'Poetical Criticisms.' I have thought fit to separate them, keeping the contributions to each Review apart, and in strict chronological order. My reasons for so doing are that, The Monthly Review was edited by a bookseller and his wife, while The Critical Review was edited by an eminent author-by Smollett. Griffiths and his wife were in the habit of altering the contributions of their humble dependant; and though Smollett probably exercised the same power, it is clear that the alterations of the bookseller and his wife would not be comparable to the alterations made by an editor of Smollett's skill. I am glad to be able to state that the course I have

taken and have here described, meets with the entire approbation of Mr. Forster, who has studied the subject with great attention (as his enlarged Life of Goldsmith will confirm the public in believing), and who is himself a master in the noble art of reviewing.

Another new feature in this edition is the introduction of Goldsmith's letters. His letters contain many of his happiest touches and strokes of character, and therefore well deserve a place among his Works.

In the fourth volume will be found a long and unpublished poem by Goldsmith, printed for the first time by Mr. Bolton Corney's kind permission, from the original MS. in Goldsmith's hand-writing. When in 1845 Mr. Corney edited the poetical works of Goldsmith, he was not aware of the existence of this MS., or he would, as he informs me, most assuredly have made use of it. Editors, it is said, are seldom liberal one to another, but the truth of the saying (if indeed there is any truth in it) is wholly disproved if applied to Mr. Bolton Corney.

The Index is greatly and importantly enlarged; while with respect to the notes throughout, I have only to say, that I hold myself responsible for all, although to the authorship of many I can lay no claim whatever. It was once my intention to distinguish those of previous editors by their names, but I abandoned that idea because in many cases I was unable to identify the writers; while I had myself taken some liberties, either of correction or compression, with almost every note;-I therefore resolved to adopt the notes of my predecessors, with this general caution and admission, and to let my own appear without the often-recurring ostentation of my name attached to them.

I cannot conclude this Preface without expressing my thanks to my friend, Mr. George Daniel, of Islington, for the very curious and important communication which he has enabled me to publish for the first time. I allude to the

account of the origin of "Retaliation," to be found at p. 78. It is written by Garrick, and while it supplies some important particulars about the poem itself, materially corrects the received copies of Garrick's epitaph or extempore distich on Goldsmith.

KENSINGTON, 27th December, 1853.


« PreviousContinue »