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dramatist may at all times oppose the mirth of his audience; for time has confirmed the opinion which Dr. Johnson gave at the moment — “ I know of no comedy for many years that has so much exhilarated an audience; that has answered so much the great end of comedy — making an audience merry.”
A similar idea of the true design of comedy generally, seems to have been entertained by the Author himself. Inquiring of Northcote, then a pupil of Sir Joshua, to whom as we have seen he had good-naturedly given tickets for the performance on his benefit night, his opinion of its merits, the latter said he could not presume to decide upon the matter.
“ Did it make you laugh ?” Exceedingly” was the reply; “Then” continued the Poet “that is all that I require.”
The greater indifference now shown to theatrical pieces, renders it difficult to give an adequate idea of the general exultation at the overthrow, as it was considered, of the class of sentimental comedies which had for a few years occupied the place of mirth and humour. Though fashion had upheld them for a time, sufficient good taste existed among the people to disapprove when the opportunity offered, of what were termed, “Comedies taken from the Whole Duty of Man, and Sentiments from the Book of Proverbs.” Goldsmith was loudly hailed as the champion of this reform in taste; he became the theme of conversation, the daily journals rang with his praises or
ridicule of his rivals, and complimentary paragraphs and verses were showered down upon the vivacity and humour of his muse. A few of these, as proofs of the general feeling of the moment, may be quoted ; one absurdly assumes the name of Johnson, though without a particle of his energy, correctness, or power, and in the concluding lines, pays rather an equivocal compliment; the fourth and best is said to have been written by Mr. Wilkes, although intimate with the manager whom he so wittily assails. *
* Verses from Dr. Johnson to Dr. Goldsmith,
OCCASIONED BY HIS NEW COMEDY, ENTITLED “THE MISTAKES
OF A NIGHT.'
« No wonder the Vis Comica is scarce,
“ But now with joy I tell the Drama's friends,
In proportion to the praises of the successful author, were the ridicule and odium cast upon his
Say not that Wit and Humour now are scarce,
ON THE SUCCESS OF DR. GOLDSMITH'S NEW COMEDY OF
OF A NIGHT.
With tales of pity and chaste scenes of love ;
To Dr. Goldsmith,
ON THE SUCCESS OF HIS NEW COMEDY, CALLED " SHE STOOPS
so Long has the Comic Muse, seduc'd to town,
Shone with false charms, in fin'ry not her own;
supposed enemies, both in prose and verse. Among these, besides the persons already men
To Dr. Goldsmith.
“ Has then (the question pray excuse,
For Doctor you ’re a droll man),
“ How drugs, alike in strength and name,
In operation vary!
Undoes th' Apothecary!'
* “ On Mr. Hugh Kelly's Censure of the New Comedy.
ADDRESSED TO DR. GOLDSMITH.
“ If Kelly finds fault with the shape of your muse,
And thinks that too loosely it plays,
To make it a new Pair of Stays !
“ His lining is small talk pick'd up at a dance,
His laces are tragedy groans,
And sentiments serve for the Bones!”
“ To the Printer of the St. James's Chronicle.
“ Though Dr. Goldsmith's brow has been already covered with such laurels as this grateful nation could bestow, perhaps after all he may regard a sprig of Northern bays as the greater curiosity.
“ It is well known that Mr. Macpherson attended the first night's representation of the New Comedy; but the public has not yet been informed, that soon after the conclusion of the piece, he was heard to utter the following sentiments, and in that peculiar style with which he has dignified his late Translation of Homer:
Through the sable boxes darkened the bombazeens of women : But along the mournful veil of artificial grief –
tioned, were numbered Macpherson though no dramatist, which may of itself disprove the story of Cumberland of the play being supported by many North Britons. But Colman, as manager, was selected more especially for the object of cen
Goldsmith's cause was indeed extremely
quick shot the gay radiance of joy:
and kindled in every bright eye.'
666 Dumb the sullen critic sat:- on his cankered heart feeding:- Fiercely frowning, deeply glooming. - Till at last, from lungs of poison — burst faintly a timorous hiss Turn him out, turn him out, toss him over was the voice of the crowd in a rage.
“ The Manager grumbled within:- The people sat laughing amain :— Through galleries, boxes, and pit - loud rattled the tumult of joy.'
“ I am Sir, with the sincerest pleasure in being able to contmunicate this literary curiosity to your paper, your most obedient servant,
To George Colman, Esq.,
ON THE SUCCESS OF DOCTOR GOLDSMITH'S NEW COMEDY,
“ Come, Coley, doff those mourning weeds,
Nor thus with jokes be flamm'd;
His next may still be damn'd.
To sink his next prepare ;
And dresses from Rag Fair.
The prologue Kelly write,
Before the author's night.
To bring to lasting shame,