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ner, he could hardly utter a word, and was so choked that he could not swallow a mouthful. When his friends trooped to the theatre, he stole away to St. James's Park: there he was found by a friend, between seven and eight o'clock, wandering up and down the Mall like a troubled spirit. With difficulty he was persuaded to go to the theatre, where his presence might be important should

any
alteration be necessary.

He arrived at the opening of the fifth act, and made his way behind the scenes.

Just as he entered there was a slight hiss at the improbability of Tony Lumpkin's trick on his mother, in persuading her she was forty miles off, on Crackskull Common, though she had been trundled about on her own grounds. 66 What's that? what's that !” cried Goldsmith to the manager, in great agitation. “Pshaw ! Doctor,” replied Colman, sarcastically, “ don't be frightened at a squib, when we've been sitting these two hours on a barrel of gunpowder !” Though of a most forgiving nature, Goldsmith did not easily forget this ungracious and ill-timed sally.

If Colman was indeed actuated by the paltry motives ascribed to him in his treatment of this play, he was most amply punished by its success, and by the taunts, epigrams, and censures levelled at him through the press, in which his false prophecies were jeered at, his critical judgment called in question, and he was openly taxed with literary jealousy. So galling and unremitting was the fire, that he at length wrote to Goldsmith, entreating him “ to take him off the rack

SQUIBS AND CRACKERS.

355

of the newspapers ” ; in the mean time, to escape the laugh that was raised about him in the theatrical world of London, he took refuge in Bath during the triumphant career of the comedy.

The following is one of the many squibs which assailed the ears of the manager :

TO GEORGE COLMAN, ESQ., ON THE SUCCESS OF DR. GOLDSMITH'S NEW COMEDY.

“ Come, Coley, doff those mourning weeds,

Nor thus with jokes be flamm’d;
Tho' Goldsmith's present play succeeds,

His next may still be damn'd.

As this has 'scaped without a fall,

To sink his next prepare;
New actors hire from Wapping Wa.

And dresses from Rag Fair.

For scenes let tatter'd blankets fly,

The prologue Kelly write;
Then swear again the piece must die

Before the author's night.

Should these tricks fail, the lucky elf,

To bring to lasting shame,
E’en write the best you can yourself,

And print it in his name.

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The solitary hiss, which had startled Gold smith, was ascribed by some of the newspaper scribblers to Cumberland himself, who was “manifestly miserable” at the delight of the audience, or to Ossian Macpherson, who was hostile to the whole Johnson clique, or to Goldsmith's dramatic rival, Kelly. The following is one of the epigrams which appeared :

“ At Dr. Goldsmith's merry play,

All the spectators laugh, they say;
The assertion, sir, I must deny,
For Cumberland and Kelly cry.

Ride, si sapis."

Another, addressed to Goldsmith, alludes to Kelly's early apprenticeship to stay-making:

“ If Kelly finds fault with the shape of your muse,

And thinks that too loosely it plays,
He surely, dear Doctor, will never refuse

To make it a new Pair of Stays !

Cradock had returned to the country before the production of the play; the following letter, written just after the performance, gives an additional picture of the thorns which beset an author in the path of theatrical literature:

MY DEAR SIR, –

“ The play has met with a success much beyond your expectations or mine. I thank you sincerely for your epilogue, which, however, could not be used, but with your permission shall be printed. The story in short is this. Murphy sent me rather the outline of an epilogue than an epilogue, which was to be sung by Miss Catley, and which she approved ; Mrs. Bulkley, hearing this, insisted on throwing up her part” (Miss Hardcastle) “un. less, according to the custom of the theatre, she were permitted to speak the epilogue. In this embarrassment I thought of making a quarrelling

а epilogue between Catley and her, debating who should speak the epilogue; but then Mrs. Catley refused after I had taken the trouble of drawing

CRITICAL OPINIONS.

355

it out. I was then at a loss indeed ; an epilogue was to be made, and for none but Mrs. Bulkley. I made one, and Colman thought it too bad to be spoken ; I was obliged, therefore, to try a fourth time, and I made a very mawkish thing, as you 'll shortly see. Such is the history of my stage adventures, and which I have at last done 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 interest 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,

6

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 preëngaged 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.

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