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the scenes, Goldsmith greeted him with an overflowing heart ; declaring that he exceeded his own idea of the character, and made it almost as new to him as to any of the audience.
On the whole, however, both the author and his friends were disappointed at the reception of the piece, and considered it a failure. Poor Goldsmith left the theatre with his towering hopes completely cut down. He endeavored to hide his mortification, and even to assume an air of unconcern while among his associates ; but the moment he was alone with Dr. Johnson, in whose rough but magnanimous nature he reposed unlimited confidence, he threw off all restraint and gave way to an almost childlike burst 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 be 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 seyenteen 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 anything 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 chem.” How often is this quoted as one of the subtle remarks of the fine-witted Talleyrand !
INTERMEDDLING OF THE PRESS.
“ 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 pufling 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 greenrooms, 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
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.
HE 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 Goodnatured 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