Corresponding methods and ideas in Goldsmith's The Traveller and The Citizen of the World
Harper, Lucile Patricia
McKillop, Alan D.
Master of Arts
In The Citizen of the World and in The Traveller Goldsmith exercised conscious techniques and was seriously concerned with the expression of a few major ideas. These two works are closely linked through the versatile figure of the traveller which is the basic device in both. In the Chinese Letters it is the cosmopolitan traveller who is able to tell about his journeys through various nations and to report his conclusions concerning these countries; it is the oriental traveller who satirizes the oriental fad of [?] and lends a particularly humorous slant to the satire on the manifestations of national partiality; it is the citizen of the world who can comment on the purposes of literature and the duties of the learned; it is the man who sympathizes with all mankind who can be concerned with the problems of the individual and of the nation; and it is the philosophic wanderer who must continue his travels while retaining a special affection for his family, friends, and homeland. The narrator of The Traveller closely resembles the wanderer of The Citizen of the World. Both profess to be impartial, to have few, or no, preconceived notions, and to be happy anywhere yet nowhere. But in each case there is clearly a discrepancy between the professed cosmopolitan point of view and the particular partiality and concern for England which is revealed. Both hold preconceptions concerning man, life, and government--ideas which remain unchanged in the course of the works and which affect the characters' thinking; and both have local and natural attachments. But their views regarding social, political, and moral questions are founded on a realistic evaluation of history and of contemporary conditions and are at no time sentimental although the characters themselves are feeling and sensitive men who entertain affection for certain individuals as well as a sympathy for all mankind. Through the comments of his travellers, it is not Goldsmith's purpose to condemn passions, feeling, or personal enjoyment, but to urge moderation in all areas of life. Nor is it his aim to extol one nation, one way of life, one class, or one type of government but to show that each may have its good and bad features; and, as each period of individual life has its compensations, so each phase of national development has compensations as well. At the same time, particular emphasis is laid on the necessity of curbing selfish avariciousness and personal ambitions in order to preserve the good of a nation and of its people; and both "the traveller" and "the citizen of the world" are used to convey this message to the English.