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with. I cannot help saying, that I am very sick of the stage; and though I believe I shall get three tolerable benefits, yet I shall, on the whole, be a loser, even in a pecuniary light; my ease and comfort I certainly lost while it was in agitation.
"I am, my dear Cradock, your obliged and obedient servant, "OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
"P. S. Present my most humble respects to Mrs. Cradock."
Johnson, who had taken such a conspicuous part in promoting the interests of poor "Goldy," was triumphant at the success of the piece. "I know of no comedy for many years," said he, "that has so much exhilarated an audience; that has answered so much the great end of comedy-making an audience merry."
Goldsmith was happy, also, in gleaning applause from less authoritative sources. Northcote, the painter, then a youthful pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds; and Ralph, Sir Joshua's confidential man, had taken their stations in the gallery to lead the applause in that quarter. Goldsmith asked Northcote's opinion of the play. The youth modestly declared he could not presume to judge in such matters. "Did it make you laugh ?" "Oh, exceedingly !" "That is all I require," replied Goldsmith; and rewarded him for his criticism by box-tickets for his first benefit night.
The comedy was immediately put to press, and dedicated to Johnson in the following grateful and affectionate terms:
"In inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honor to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to
inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety."
The copyright was transferred to Mr. Newbery, according to agreement, whose profits on the sale of the work far exceeded the debts for which the author in his perplexities had pre-engaged it. The sum which accrued to Goldsmith from his benefit nights, afforded but a slight palliation of his pecuniary difficulties. His friends, while they exulted in his success, little knew of his continually increasing embarrassments, and of the anxiety of mind which kept tasking his pen while it impaired the ease and freedom of spirit necessary to felicitous composition.
A NEWSPAPER ATTACK.
A newspaper attack.-The Evans affray.-Johnson's comment.
THE triumphant success of She Stoops to Conquer brought forth, of course, those carpings and cavillings of underling scribblers, which are the thorns and briers in the path of successful authors. Goldsmith, though easily nettled by attacks of the kind, was at present too well satisfied with the reception of his comedy to heed them; but the following anonymous letter, which appeared in a public paper, was not to be taken with equal equanimity:
"For the London Packet.
66 TO DR. GOLDSMITH.
"Vous vous noyez par vanité.
"SIR,-The happy knack which you have learned 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's figure in a pierglass? Was but the lovely H-k as much enamored, 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 the 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 dramatic 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 humor; 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, &c., and take it for an inn. The one is intended as a lover for 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 to be 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 has 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
THE EVANS AFFRAY.
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 and see it, though I never saw a person that either liked it or approved it, any more than the absurd plot of Home's tragedy of 'Alonzo.' Mr. Goldsmith, correct your arrogance, reduce your vanity, and endeavor 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
It would be difficult to devise a letter more calculated to wound the peculiar sensibilities of Goldsmith. The attacks upon him as an author, though annoying enough, he could have tolerated; but then the allusion to his "grotesque" person, to his studious attempts to adorn it; and above all, to his being an unsuccessful admirer of the lovely H-k (the Jessamy Bride), struck rudely upon the most sensitive part of his highly sensitive nature. The paragraph, it is said, was first pointed out to him by an officious friend, an Irishman, who told him he was bound in honor to resent it; but he needed no such prompting. He was in a high state of excitement and indignation, and accompanied by his friend, who is said to have been a Captain Higgins, of the marines, he repaired to Paternoster-row, to the shop of Evans, the publisher, whom he supposed to be the editor of the paper. Evans was summoned by his shopman from an adjoining room. Goldsmith announced his