The Works of Oliver Goldsmith (Volume 5)

9780217806299: The Works of Oliver Goldsmith (Volume 5)

Book may have numerous typos, missing text, images, or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1900. Excerpt: ... ON THE INSTABILITY OF WORLDLY GRANDEUR.1 An alehouse-keeper near Islington, who had long lived at the sign of the French King, upon the commencement of the last war with France pulled down his old sign and put up the Queen of Hungary. Under the influence of her red face and golden sceptre he continued to sell ale till she was no longer the favorite of his customers; he changed her, therefore, some time ago, for the King of Prussia, who may probably be changed in turn for the next great man that shall be set up for vulgar admiration. Our publican in this imitates the great exactly, who deal out their figures one after the other to the gazing crowd beneath them. When we have sufficiently wondered at one, that is taken in and another exhibited in its room, which seldom holds its station long, for the mob are ever pleased with variety. I must own I have such an indifferent opinion of the vulgar that I am ever led to suspect the merit which raises their shout; at least, I am certain to find those great and sometimes good men who find satisfaction in such acclamations made worse by it; and history has too frequently taught me that the head which has grown this day giddy with the roar of the million has the very next been fixed upon a pole. As Alexander VI. was entering a little town in the neighborhood of Rome, which had been just evacuated by the enemy, he perceived the townsmen busy in the market-place in pulling down from a gibbet a figure which had been designed to represent himself. There were also some knocking down a neighboring statue of one of the Orsini family, with whom he was at war, in order to put Alexander's effigy, when taken down, in its place. It is possible a man who knew less of the world would have condemned the adulation of those barefaced flatterers; but Alexander s...

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