The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 22. The Haunch of Venison
Report says that Goldsmith’s more critical contemporaries ranked The Deserted Village below The Traveller—a mistake perhaps to be explained by the intelligible, but often unreasoning, prejudice in favour of a first impression. He was certainly paid better for it, if it be true that he received a hundred guineas, which, although five times as much as he got for The Traveller, was still not more than Cadell paid six years later for Hannah More’s forgotten Sir Eldred of the Bower. The Deserted Village was published on 26 May, 1770, with an affectionate dedication to Reynolds, and ran through five editions in the year of issue. In the July following its appearance, Goldsmith paid a short visit to paris with his Devonshire friends, Mrs. and the Miss Hornecks, the elder of whom he had fitted with the pretty pet name “the Jessamy Bride,” and who is supposed to have inspired him with more than friendly feelings. On his return, he fell again to the old desk work, a life of Bolingbroke, an abridgment of his Roman History and so forth. But he still found time for the exhibition of his more playful gifts, since it must have been about this date that, in the form of an epistle to his friend Lord Clare, he threw off that delightful medley of literary recollection and personal experience, the verses known as The Haunch of Venison, in which the ease and lightness of Prior are wedded to the best measure of Swift. If the chef d’œuvre be really the equal of the chef d’œuvre, there is little better in Goldsmith’s work than this pleasant jeu d’esprit. But he had a yet greater triumph to come, for, by the end of 1771, he had completed his second and more successful comedy, She Stoops to Conquer.