"I have ever perceived, that where the mind was capacious, the affections were good."

— Goldsmith, Oliver (1728?-1774)

Place of Publication
Printed by B. Collins for F. Newbery in Pater-Noster Row
"I have ever perceived, that where the mind was capacious, the affections were good."
Metaphor in Context
[...] An honest man is the noblest work of God.'

'I always held that maxim of Pope,' returned Mr Burchell, 'as very unworthy a man of genius, and a base desertion of his own superiority. As the reputation of books is raised not by their freedom from defect, but by the greatness of their beauties; so should that of men be prized not for their exemption from fault, but the size of those virtues they are possessed of. The scholar may want prudence, the statesman may have pride, and the champion ferocity; but shall we prefer to these the low mechanic, who laboriously plods through life, without censure or applause? We might as well prefer the tame and correct paintings of the Flemish school to the erroneous, but sublime animations of the Roman pencil.'

'Sir,' replied I, 'your present observation is just, when there are shining virtues and minute defects; but when it appears that great vices are opposed in the same mind to as extraordinary virtues, such a character deserves contempt.'

'Perhaps,' cried he, 'there may be some such monsters as you describe, or great vices joined to great virtues; yet in my progress through life, I never yet found one instance of their existence: on the contrary, I have ever perceived, that where the mind was capacious, the affections were good. And indeed Providence seems kindly to our friend in this particular, thus to debilitate the understanding where the heart is corrupt, and diminish the power where there is will to do mischief. This rule seems to extend even to other animals: the little vermin race are ever treacherous, cruel, cowardly, whilst those endowed with strength and power are generous, brave, and gentle.'
(XV, p. 95-6)
68 entries in the ESTC (1766, 1767, 1769, 1772, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1795, 1797, 1799, 1800).

See also Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale. Supposed to be Written by Himself, 2 vols. (Salisbury: B. Collins, 1766). <Link to ECCO><Link to Vol. I in ECCO-TCP><Vol. II>

Reading Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield, ed. Stephen Coote (London and New York: Penguin Books, 1986).
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.