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of grief. Johnson, who had shown no want of sympathy at the proper time, saw nothing in the partial disappointment of overrated expectations to warrant such ungoverned emotions, and rebuked him sternly for what he termed a silly affectation, saying that "No man should be expected to sympathize with the sorrows of vanity."
When Goldsmith had recovered from the blow, he, with his usual unreserve, made his past distress a subject of amusement to his friends. Dining one day, in company with Dr. Johnson, at the chaplain's table at St. James's Palace, he entertained the company with a particular and comic account of all his feelings on the night of representation, and his despair when the piece was hissed. How he went, he said, to the Literary Club; chatted gayly, as if nothing had gone amiss; and, to give a greater idea of his unconcern, sang his favorite song about an old woman tossed in a blanket seventeen times as high as the moon. "All this while," added he, "I was suffering horrid tortures, and, had I put a bit in my mouth, I verily believe it would have strangled me on the spot, I was so excessively ill: but I made more noise than usual to cover all that; so they never perceived my not eating, nor suspected the anguish of my heart; but, when all were gone except Johnson here, I burst out a-crying, and even swore that I would never write again."
Dr. Johnson sat in amaze at the odd frankness and childlike self-accusation of poor Goldsmith. When the latter had come to a pause, "All this, doctor," said he dryly, "I thought had been a secret between you and me, and I am sure I would not have said any thing about it for the world." But Goldsmith had no secrets: his follies, his weaknesses, his errors were all thrown to the surface; his heart was really too guileless and innocent to
seek mystery and concealment. It is too often the false, designing man that is guarded in his conduct and never offends proprieties.
It is singular, however, that Goldsmith, who thus in conversation could keep nothing to himself, should be the author of a maxim which would inculcate the most thorough dissimulation. "Men of the world," says he in one of the papers of the Bee, "maintain that the true end of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them." How often is this quoted as one of the subtle remarks of the fine witted Talleyrand!
"The Good-natured Man" was performed for ten nights in succession; the third, sixth, and ninth nights were for the author's benefit; the fifth night it was commanded by their majesties; after this it was played occasionally, but rarely, having always pleased more in the closet than on the stage.
As to Kelly's comedy, Johnson pronounced it entirely devoid of character, and it has long since passed into oblivion. Yet it is an instance how an inferior production, by dint of puffing and trumpeting, may be kept up for a time on the surface of popular opinion, or rather of popular talk. What had been done for "False Delicacy" on the stage was continued by the press. The booksellers vied with the manager in launching it upon the town. They announced that the first impression of three thousand copies was exhausted before two o'clock on the day of publication; four editions, amounting to ten thousand copies, were sold in the course of the season; a public breakfast was given to Kelly at the Chapter Coffee-House, and a piece of plate presented to him by the publishers. The comparative merits of the two plays were continually subjects of discussion in green-rooms,
INTERMEDDLING OF THE PRESS.
coffee-houses, and other places where theatrical questions were discussed.
Goldsmith's old enemy, Kenrick, that "viper of the press," endeavored on this as on many other occasions to detract from his well-earned fame; the poet was excessively sensitive to these attacks, and had not the art and self-command to conceal his feelings.
Some scribblers on the other side insinuated that Kelly had seen the manuscript of Goldsmith's play, while in the hands of Garrick or elsewhere, and had borrowed some of the situations and sentiments. Some of the wags of the day took a mischievous pleasure in stirring up a feud between the two authors. Goldsmith became nettled, though he could scarcely be deemed jealous of one so far his inferior. He spoke disparagingly, though no doubt sincerely, of Kelly's play: the latter retorted. Still, when they met one day behind the scenes of Covent Garden, Goldsmith, with his customary urbanity, congratulated Kelly on his success. "If I thought you sincere, Mr. Goldsmith," replied the other, abruptly, "I should thank you." Goldsmith was not a man to harbor spleen or ill-will, and soon laughed at this unworthy rivalship: but the jealousy and envy awakened in Kelly's mind long continued. He is even accused of having given vent to his hostility by anonymous attacks in the newspapers, the basest resource of dastardly and malignant spirits; but of this there is no positive proof.
Burning the candle at both ends.-Fine apartments.-Fine furniture.—Fine clothes. Fine acquaintances.-Shoemaker's holiday and jolly pigeon associates.-Peter Barlow, Glover, and the Hampstead hoax.-Poor friends among great acquaintances.
THE profits resulting from "The Good-natured Man" were beyond any that Goldsmith had yet derived from his works. He netted about four hundred pounds from the theatre, and one hundred pounds from his publisher.
Five hundred pounds! and all at one miraculous draught! It appeared to him wealth inexhaustible. It at once opened his heart and hand, and led him into all kinds of extravagance. The first symptom was ten guineas sent to Shuter for a box ticket for his benefit, when "The Good-natured Man" was to be performed. The next was an entire change in his domicil. The shabby lodgings with Jeffs, the butler, in which he had been worried by Johnson's scrutiny, were now exchanged for chambers more becoming a man of his ample fortune. The apartments consisted of three rooms on the second floor of No. 2 Brick Court, Middle Temple, on the right hand ascending the staircase, and overlooked the umbrageous walks of the Temple garden. The lease he purchased for £400, and then went on to furnish his rooms with mahogany sofas, card-tables, and book-cases; with curtains,
mirrors, and Wilton carpets. His awkward little person was also furnished out in a style befitting his apartment; for, in addition to his suit of “Tyrian bloom, satin grain," we find another charged about this time, in the books of Mr. Filby, in no less gorgeous terms, being "lined with silk and furnished with gold buttons." Thus lodged and thus arrayed, he invited the visits of his most aristocratic acquaintances, and no longer quailed beneath the courtly eye of Beauclerc. He gave dinners to John son, Reynolds, Percy, Bickerstaff, and other friends of note; and supper parties to young folks of both sexes. These last were preceded by round games of cards, at which there was more laughter than skill, and in which the sport was to cheat each other; or by romping games of forfeits and blind-man's buff, at which he enacted the lord of misrule. Blackstone, whose chambers were immediately below, and who was studiously occupied on his Commentaries, used to complain of the racket made overhead by his revelling neighbor.
Sometimes Goldsmith would make up a rural party, composed of four or five of his "jolly pigeon" friends, to enjoy what he humorously called a "shoemaker's holiday." These would assemble at his chambers in the morning, to partake of a plentiful and rather expensive breakfast; the remains of which, with his customary benevolence, he generally gave to some poor woman in attendance. The repast ended, the party would set out on foot, in high spirits, making extensive rambles by foot-paths and green lanes to Blackheath, Wandsworth, Chelsea, Hampton Court, Highgate, or some other pleasant resort, within a few miles of London. A simple but gay and heartily relished dinner, at a country inn, crowned the excursion. In the evening they strolled back to town, all the better in health and spirits for a day spent