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ancholy.” “ Often he would become moody," says Glover, “and would leave the party abruptly to go home and brood over his misfortune.”

It is possible, however, that he went home for quite a different purpose :

to commit to paper some scene or passage suggested for his comedy of “ The Good-natured Man." The elaboration of humor is often a most serious task; and we have never witnessed a more perfect picture of mental misery than was once presented to us by a popular dramatic writer still, we hope, living

whom we found in the agonies of producing a farce which subsequently set the theatres in a

roar.

CHAPTER XX.

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The Great Cham of Literature and the King. - Scene at Sir

Joshua Reynolds's. — Goldsmith accused of Jealousy. – Negotiations with Garrick. — The Author and the Actor; Their Correspondence.

HE comedy of “ The Good-natured Man" was completed by Goldsmith early in

1767, and submitted to the perusal of Johnson, Burke, Reynolds, and others of the literary club, by whom it was heartily approved. Johnson, who was seldom half-way either in censure or applause, pronounced it the best comedy that had been written since “ The Provoked Husband,” and promised to furnish the prologue. This immediately became an object of great solicitude with Goldsmith, knowing the weight an introduction from the Great Cham of literature would have with the public; but circumstances occurred which he feared might drive the comedy and the prologue from Johnson's thoughts. The latter was in the habit of visiting the royal library at the Queen's (Buckingham) House, a noble collection of books, in the formation of which he had assisted the librarian, Mr. Bernard, with his advice. One evening, as he was seated there by the fire reading, he was surprised by the entrance of the King (George III.), then a young

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man, who sought this occasion to have a conver. sation with him. The conversation was varied and discursive, the King shifting from subject to subject according to his wont. “During the whole interview,” says Boswell, “ Johnson talked to his Majesty with profound respect, but still in his open, manly manner, with a sonorous voice, and never in that subdued tone which is commonly used at the levee and in the drawing-room. 'I found his Majesty wished I should talk,' said he, and I made it my business to talk. I find it does a man good to be talked to by his sovereign. In the first place, a man cannot be in a passion.'It would have been well for Johnson's col loquial disputants, could he have often been under such decorous restraint. Profoundly monarchical in his principles, he retired from the interview highly gratified with the conversation of the King and with his gracious behavior. Sir,” said he to the librarian, “ they may talk of the King as they will, but he is the finest gentleman I have ever seen.”. “ Sir,” said he subsequently to Bennet Langton, “his manners are those of as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Louis the Fourteenth or Charles the Second."

While Johnson's face was still radiant with the reflex of royalty, he was holding forth one day to a listening group at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, who were anxious to hear every particular of this memorable conversation. Among other questions, the King had asked him whether he was writing anything His reply was, that he thought he had already done his part as a writer. 6 I should

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BOSWELL AT FAULT. ,

215

to pay.

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have thought so too,” said the King, “ if you had not written so well." “ No man,” said Johnson, commenting on this speech, “ could have made a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a King It was decisive.”

“ But did

you

make no reply to this high compliment ? ” asked one of the company.

No, sir," replied the profoundly deferential Johnson ; “ when the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to bandy civilities with my sovereign.”

During all the time that Johnson was thus holding forth, Goldsmith, who was present, appearing to take no interest in the royal theme, but remained seated on a sofa at a distance, in a moody fit of abstraction ; at length recollecting himself, he sprang up, and advancing, exclaimed, with what Boswell calls his usual “ frankness and simplicity,"_" Well, you acquitted yourself in this

“ conversation better than I should have done, for I should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it.” He afterwards explained his seeming inattention by saying that his mind was completely occupied about his play, and by fears lest Johnson, in his present state of royal excitement, would fail to furnish the much-desired prologue.

How natural and truthful is this explanation. Yet Boswell presumes to pronounce Goldsmith's inattention affected, and attributes it to jealousy. “ It was strongly suspected,” says he, “ that he was fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honor Dr. Johnson had lately enjoyed.” It needed the littleness of mind of Boswell to assribe such pitiful motives to Goldsmith, and to

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entertain such exaggerated notions of the honor paid to Dr. Johnson.

66 The Good-natured Man was now ready for performance, but the question was, how to get it upon the stage. The affairs of Covent Garden, for which it had been in led, were thrown into confusion by the recent death of Rich, the manager. Drury Lane was under the management of Garrick ; but a feud, it will be recollected, existed between him and the poet, from the animadversions of the latter on the mismanagement of theatrical affairs, and the refusal of the former to give the poet his vote for the secretaryship of the Society of Arts. Times, however, were changed. Goldsmith, when that feud took place, was an anonymous writer, almost unknown to fame, and of no circulation in society. Now he had become a literary lion ; he was a member of the Literary Club; he was the associate of Johnson, Burke, Topham Beauclerc, and other magnates, in a word, he had risen to consequence in the public eye, and of course was of consequence in the eyes of David Garrick. Sir Joshua Reynolds saw the lurking scruples of pride existing between the author and actor, and thinking it a pity that two men of such congenial talents, and who might be so serviceable to each other, should be kept asunder by a worn-out pique, exerted his friendly offices to bring them together. The meeting took place in Reynolds's house in Leices. ter Square. Garrick, however, could not entirely put off the mock majesty of the stage ; he meant to be civil, but he was rather too gracious and

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