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popular, but in taking it up, several of his partisans were probably revenging their own ; some willing to punish the ruler of the theatre for past refusals of their pieces; others meaning to intimidate him from such offences in future. The fire of squibs, witticisms, and paragraphs against him became incessant; his opinion of the play was attributed to extreme jealousy, and if it were not jealousy it was triumphantly asked, how could
dramatic writer in future, with satisfaction to himself, offer a piece to a person so defective in judgment as Mr. Colman had shown himself, or the town receive it with pleasure at his hands ? Either horn of the dilemma was thought fatal to his continuance in theatrical power. His marginal criticisms which seemed to be well known, were treated with derision ; to be despised, it was said, they need only be published ; and the author as the best punishment of his enemy was recommended to print them with the play, in order that the public might see on whom they depended for the selection of their chief amusement.
So perseveringly was this warfare carried on in every variety of form, that the manager became at length seriously annoyed; he wrote what was considered a penitential letter to Goldsmith, requesting he would “take him off the rack of the newspapers,” and in order to
in London, took flight in the beginning of the second week to Bath. A victory was thus achieved to the great satisfaction of the wits of the day, but
the author on the publication of the play, gave no intimation either of triumph or discontent in the only allusion he permitted himself to make. — “The undertaking a comedy” he says “not merely sentimental was very dangerous ; and Mr. Colman who saw this piece in its various stages always thought it so. However I ventured to trust it to the public; and though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.” This moderation which indicates none of the permanent resentment attributed to him, was not without its effect. When death had removed all rivalry, the manager, weaned from his sentimental attachments, thus paid tribute to the genius and memory of his old friend, in the prologue to the Chapter of Accidents, 1780.
“Long has the passive stage howe'er absurd,
Some imitations of the play have appeared on the French stage ; among others La Fausse Aubèrge a prose comedy in two acts which came out at the Italian theatre at Paris in 1789, and experienced tolerable success.
DICTIONARY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES.-HISTORY OF GREECE.
The applause bestowed upon his comic labours was too great not to draw from less successful candidates for public favour, a portion of that abuse frequently incurred by superior merit. A letter of this description appeared in the London Packet newspaper, of the 24th March *, which he would no doubt have treated with the neglect such things deserve and which he had hitherto always
* “ To Dr. Goldsmith.
“ Vous vous moyez par vanité.
“ The happy knack which you have learnt of puffing your own compositions provokes me to come forth. You have not been the editor of newspapers and magazines, not to discover the trick of literary humbug. But the gauze is so thin, that the very foolish part of the world see through it, and discover the Doctor's monkey face and cloven foot. Your poetic vanity, is as unpardonable as your personal; would man believe it, and will woman bear it, to be told, that for hours, the great Goldsmith will stand surveying his grotesque orang-outang figure in a pier glass. Was but the lovely H-k as much enamoured, you would not sigh, my gentle swain, in vain. But your vanity is preposterous. How will this same bard of Bedlam ring the changes in praise of Goldy! But what has he to be either proud or vain of? The Traveller is a flimsy poem, built upon false principles ; principles diametrically opposite to liberty.
What is the Good Natured Man, but a poor, water-gruel, dra-matic dose? What is the Deserted Village, but a pretty poem, of easy numbers, without fancy, dignity, genius or fire ? And pray what may be the last speaking pantomime so praised by the Doctor himself, but an incoherent piece of stuff, the figure of a woman, with a fish's tail, without plot, incident, or intrigue. We are made to laugh at stale, dull jokes, wherein we mistake pleasantry for wit, and grimace for humour ; wherein every scene is unnatural, and inconsistent with the rules, the laws of nature, and of the drama; viz. Two gentlemen come to a man of fortune's house, eat, drink, sleep, &c. and take it for an inn. The one is intended as a lover to the daughter; he talks with her for some hours, and when he sees her again in a different dress, he treats her as a bar-girl, and swears she squinted. He abuses the master of the house, and threatens to kick him out of his own doors. The Squire whom we are told is to be a fool, proves the most sensible being of the piece ; and he makes out a whole act, by bidding his mother lie close behind a bush, persuading her that his father, her own husband, is a highwayman, and that he is come to cut their throats; and to give his cousin an opportunity to go off, he drives his mother over hedges, ditches, and through ponds. There is not, sweet sucking Johnson, a natural stroke in the whole play, but the young fellow's giving the stolen jewels to the mother supposing her to be the landlady. That Mr. Colman did no justice to this piece, I honestly allow; that he told all his friends it would be damned, I positively aver; and from such ungenerous insinuations, without a dramatic merit, it rose to public notice, and it is now the ton to go to see it; though I never saw a person that either liked it or approved it, any more than the absurd plot of the Homes' tragedy of Alonzo. Mr. Goldsmith, correct your arrogance! Reduce your vanity ; and endeavour to believe, as a man, you are of the plainest sort; and as an author, but a mortal piece of mediocrity.
Brise le miroir infidèle,
66 Tom TICKLE."
shown, but for the injudicious interference of a military acquaintance, one of his countrymen, Captain Higgins, who with something of the national pugnacity, thought it necessary to involve his friend in a personal encounter in answer to this very silly and very harmless abuse.
An unfinished fragment intended for a detail of the affair, and no doubt meant for publication in lieu of that which afterwards appeared, was found among
papers in the handwriting of an amanuensis.
“ As I find the public have been informed by the newspapers of a slight fray which happened between me and the editor of an evening paper ; to prevent their being imposed upon, the account is shortly this.
“ A friend of mine came on Friday to inform me that a paragraph was inserted against me in the London Packet which I was in honour bound to resent. I read the paper, and considered it in the same light as he did. I went to the editor and struck him with my cane on the back. A scuffle ensued *
A few new particulars of the assault upon the publisher are thus communicated by a surviving witness, whose recollection of the occurrence is but little impaired by time.*
* Mr. Harris, late of St. Paul's Churchyard, whose publications for youth are so well known, and who succeeded to the business of Francis Newbery, the nephew, not the son, of John Newbery.