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and self-confession of his friend; and, when Gold. smith 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 anything about it for the world.”
“ The Good-natured Man” was performed ten nights in succession, and then occasionally ; but it has always pleased more in the closet than on the stage. The profit of the author from the theatre and the publisher was about £500.
A few days before the appearance of the “Good. natured Man," a rival comedy by Hugh Kelly, en. titled “False Delicacy,” was produced at Drury. Lane, and had a great run, probably through the favouring countenance and skilful management of Garrick. Johnson pronounced it “ totally devoid of character," and it has long since passed into oblivion ; yet it kept pace with its rival in its progress through the press ; the booksellers announ. ced that the first impression of three thousand cop. ies 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, and a public breakfast was given to Kelly at the Chapter Coffee house, and a piece of plate presented to him by the publishers. The compar. ative merits of the two plays were continual sub. jects of discussion in green-rooms, coffee-houses, and all other places where theatrical questions were discussed. Some 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 rival authors. Goldsmith became netiled, though he could scarce. ly be termed 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, congratu. lated 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 harbour spleen or ill-will, and soon laughed at this unworthy rivalship : but the jealousy and envy awakened in Kelly lasted through the life of his competitor, and found a vent in anonymous attacks in the newspapers, the basest resource of dastardly and malignant spirits.
Goldsmith's old enemy, Kenrick, was among the “ vipers of the press," as Cumberland called them, who endeavoured on this, as on many other occa. sions, to detract from his well-earned fame. Poor Goldsmith was excessively sensitive to these attacks, and had not the art and self-command to conceal his feelings.
In the spring of 1768 he received the afflicting intelligence of the death of his brother Henry, then but forty-five years of age. He had led a quiet and blameless life in the scenes of his youth, fulfilling the duties of village pastor with unaffect. ed piety, conducting the school at Lissoy with a degree of industry and ability that gave it celebri. ty, and acquitting himself in all the domestic du. ties of life with undeviating rectitude and the mild. est benevolence. What probably added to the affliction of Goldsmith at the news of his death
was, that he feared his brother died with some doubt upon
his mind of the warmth of his affection. Goldsmith had been urged by his friends in Ireland, since his elevation in the world, to use his influence with the great, which they supposed to be all-powerful, to obtain church preferment for his brother. He did exert himself as far as his diffi. dent nature would permit, but without success, and was accused by some of his friends of negligence. It is not likely, however, that his amiable and es. timable brother joined in the accusation.
In the middle of May, 1769, Goldsmith published his Roman History "for the use of schools and colleges ;" a work written without pretension, but which, from its ease, perspicuity, good sense, and delightfully simple style, has ever since remained in the hands of young and old. It drew forth, a few years after its appearance, a most copious eu. logy from Dr. Johnson, in the course of a conversation with Boswell. “ Whether we take him," said Johnson, “as a poet, as a comic writer, or as an historian, he stands in the first class.” Boswell.
-“ An historian! My dear sir, you surely will not rank his compilation of the Roman History with the works of other historians of this age.” John. son.—“Why, who are before him ?” Boswell. “ Hume-Robertson-Lord Lyttleton.” Johnson Çhis antipathy against the Scotch beginning to rise).
-“ I have not read Hume ; but doubtless Gold. smith's History is better than the verbiage of Robertson, or the foppery of Dalrymple.” Boswell.“ Will you not admit the superiority of Robertson, in whose history we find such penetration, such painting ?” Johnson._-“Sir, you must consider
how that penetration and that painting are emplay. ed. It is not history, it is imagination. He who describes what he never saw, draws from fancy. Robertson paints minds, as Sir Joshua paints faces, in a history-piece; he imagines an heroic counte.
You must look upon Robertson's work as romance, and try it by that standard. History it is not. Besides, sir, it is the great excellence of a writer to put into his book as much as his book will hold. Goldsmith has done this in his history. Now Robertson might have put twice as much in his book. Robertson is like a man who has packed gold in wool; the wool takes up more room than the gold. No, sir; I always thought Robertson would be crushed with his own weight—would be buried under his own ornaments. Goldsmith tells you shortly all you want to know : Robertson de. tains you a great deal too long. No man will read Rubertson's cumbrous detail a second time; but Goldsmith's plain narrative will please again and again. I would say to Robertson, what an old tu. tor of a college said to one of his pupils, “ Read over your compositions, and, whenever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out! Goldsmith's abridgment is better than that of Lucius Florus or Eutropius ; and I will venture to say, that if you compare him with Vertot in the same places of the Roman History, you will find that he excels Vertot. Sir, he has the art of com. piling, and of saying everything he has to say in a pleasing manner. He is now writing a Natural History, and will make it as entertaining as a Persian tale.”
The Natural History to which Johnson alluded was the “ History of Animated Nature," which Goldsmith commenced in 1769. He was induced to engage in it by the urgent solicitations of the booksellers, who were struck by the sterling mer. its and captivating style of an introduction which he wrote to Brookes's Natural History. It was Goldsmith's intention originally to make a translation of Pliny, with a popular commentary; but the appearance of Buffon's work induced him to change his plan, and make use of that author for a guide and model.
Cumberland, speaking of this work, observes : Distress drove Goldsmith upon undertakings neither congenial with his studies nor worthy of his talents. I remember him when, in his cham. bers in the Temple, he showed me the beginning of his · Animated Nature ;' it was with a sigh, such as genius draws when hard necessity diverts it from its bent to drudge for bread, and talk of birds, and beasts, and creeping things, which Pidock's showman would have done as well. Poor fellow, he hardly knows an ass from a mule, nor a turkey from a goose, but when he sees it on the
Others of Goldsmith's friends entertained simi lar ideas with respect to his fitness for the task, and they were apt now and then to banter him on the subject, and to amuse themselves with his easy credulity. The custom among the natives of Otaheite of eating dogs being once mentioned in company, Goldsmith observed that a similar custom prevailed in China; that a dog-butcher is as com. mon there as any other butcher; and that, when he walked abroad, all the dogs fall on him. John.