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Mother still talks ' of taming, modes refin'd;'
I'm off—the horses scamper through the street*,
Then Bet herself shall sit at top o' to' table;
Though I was inattentive to my own productions of every sort, I hope 1 was always careful as to those of others. Dr. Goldsmith presented to me his Threnodia Augustalis, written on the Princess Dowager's death ; I gave it up to Mr. M ichols, and have since seen the following extract from Mr. Chalmer's Life of Goldsmith in the collection of English Poets, published in 1810:
'The present edition of his poems is copied from the octavo principally, with the addition of the Threnodia Augustalis, a piece which has hitherto escaped the researches of his editors. It is now printed from a copy given by the author to his friend Joseph Cradock, Esq. of Grumley, author of Zobeide, and obligingly lent to me by Mr. Nichols. If it add little to his fame, it exhibits a curious instance of the facility with which he gratified his employers on a very short notice.'
Dr. Percy very kindly introduced me to dine at the Literary Club, at the bottom of St. James's Street, where we met Dr. Goldsmith. The table that day was crowded, and I sat next Mr. Burke; but as Mr. Richard Burke talked much, and the great orator said very little, 1 was not aware at first who was my neighbour. One of the party near us remarked, that there was an offensive smell in the room, and thought it must proceed from some dog that was under the table; but Mr. Burke, with a smile, turned to me, and said, 'I rather fear it is from the beef-steak pie, that is opposite to us, the crust of which is made with some very bad butter, that comes from my country.' Just at that moment Dr. Johnson sent his plate for some of it, and Burke helped him to very little, which he soon dispatched, and returned his plate for more; Burke, without thought, exclaimed, ' 1 am glad that you are able so well to relish this beef-steak pie.' Johnson, not at all pleased that what he eat should ever be noticed, immediately retorted, ' There is a time of life, Sir, when a man requires the repairs of a table.'
Before dinner was finished, Mr. Garrick came in, full dressed, made many apologies for being so much later than he intended, but he had been unexpectedly detained at the House of Lords, and Lord Camden had absolutely insisted upon setting him down at the door of the hotel in his own carriage. Johnson said nothing, but he looked a volume.
During the afternoon some literary dispute arose; but Johnson sat silent, till the Dean of Derry very respectfully said, ' We all wish, Sir, for your opinion on the subject.' Johnson inclined his head, and never shone more in his life than at that period: he replied, without any pomp; he was perfectly clear and explicit, full of the subject, and left nothing undetermined. There was a pause, and he was then hailed with astonishment by all the company. The evening in general passed off very pleasantly: some talked perhaps for amusement, and others for victory. We sat very late; and the conversation that at last ensued was the direct cause of my friend Goldsmith's poem, called ' Retaliation.'
Dr. Goldsmith and I never quarrelled, for he was convinced that I had a real regard for him; but a kind of civil sparring continually took place between us. 'You are so attached,' says he, 'to Hurd, Gray, and Mason, that you think nothing good can proceed but out of that formal school;—now I'll mend Gray's Elegy, by leaving out an idle word in every lines!'—'And for me, Doctor, completely spoil it.'
'The curfew tolli the knell of day,
The lowing herd winds o'er the lea;
'Enough, enough, I have no ear for more.'
'Cradock (after a pause;, I am determined to come down into the country, and make some stay with you, and I will build you an ice-house.'—' Indeed, my dear Doctor,' I replied, 'you will not; you have got the strangest notion in the world of making amends to your friends, where ever you go; I hope, if you favour me with a visit, that you will consider that your own company is the best recompense.' 'Well,' says Goldsmith, 'that is civilly enough expressed; but I should like to build you an ice-house: I have built two already, they are perfect, and this should be a pattern to all your country.'
'I dined yesterday,' says he, laying down his papers, ' in company with three of your friends, and I talked at every
thing.' 'And they would spare you in nothing.' 'I
cared not for that, I persisted; but I declare solemnly to you, that though I angled the whole evening, I never once obtained a bite.'
'You are all of you,' continued he, 'absolutely afraid of Johnson,—now I attack him boldly, and without the least reserve.'—' You do, Doctor, and sometimes catch a Tartar.' 'If it were not for me, he would be insufferable; if you remember the last time we ever supped together, he sat sulky and growling, but 1 resolved to fetch him out;'—' You did, and at last he told you that he would have no more of your fooleries.'
It was always thought fair by some persons to make what stories they pleased of Dr. Goldsmith, and the following was freely circulated in ridicule of him: 'That he attended the Fantoccini in Penton Street, and that from envy he wished to excel the dexterity of one of the puppets.' I was of the party, and remember no more, than that the Doctor, the Rev. Mr. Ludlam of St. John's College, and some others, went together to see the puppetshow: there we were all greatly entertained, and many idle remarks might possibly be made by all of us during the evening. Mr. Ludlam afterwards laughingly declared, that he believed he must shut up all his experiments at Cambridge and Leicester in future, and take lectures only during the winter from Fantoccinis, and the expert mechanists of both the royal theatres.
The greatest real fault of Dr. Goldsmith was, that if he had thirty pounds in his pocket, he would go into certain companies in the country, and in hopes of doubling the sum, would generally return to town without any part of it.
One of the worst affrays that Dr. Goldsmith ever engaged in, was with Evans the bookseller, of Paternoster Row. Evans was the editor of the Universal Magazine, and had suffered a most offensive article to be inserted therein, which turned to ridicule not only the Doctor, but some ladies of the highest respectability. The Doctor unfortunately went to dine with the family, in Westminster, just after they had read this insulting article, and they were all most highly indignant at it. The Doctor, agonized all dinner time, but as soon as possible afterwards he stole away, set off in great haste for Paternoster Row, and caned Evans in his own shop. This was every way a terrible affair, and I privately consulted with Dr. Johnson concerning it. He said, 'that this at any time would have been highly prejudicial to Goldsmith, but particularly now;' and he advised me, as I was intimate with both, that I should call upon Evans, and endeavour to get the matter adjusted. I followed his advice, and Evans really behaved very kindly to me on the occasion. I truly urged, 'that this publication had cut off Dr. Goldsmith from the society of one of the most friendly houses that he had ever frequented, and that he could not have tortured him in a more tender point.' Evans calmly attended to me; and after much negotiation, and the interference of several discreet friends, this vexatious affair was at last finally got rid of. The name of Johnson on such an affray will perhaps remind the reader that he himself once knocked down a very worthy bookseller in his own shop, at Gray's Inn (as related by Boswell). The story was currently reported, and caused the following extempore, which has never extended before beyond a private circulation:
'When Johnson, Witt, tremendous step and slow,
Folly determined, deigns to fell the foe,
E'en the earth trembles, tbnnders roll around,
And mighty Osborne's self lies level'd with the ground.'
'Lie still, Sir,' said Johnson, 'that you may not give me a second trouble.' Mr. Nichols once asked Dr. Johnson, 'if the story was true.'—' No, Sir, it was not in his shop, it was in my own house.'
I had not seen or heard from Dr. Goldsmith for a very considerable time, till I came to town with my wife, who was to place herself under the care of Mr. Parkinson, dentist, in Fleet Street, for rather a dangerous operation; and we took lodgings in Norfolk Street, that we might be in his neighbourhood. Goldsmith I found much altered, and at times very low; and I devoted almost all my mornings to his immediate service. He wished me to look over and revise some of his works; but with a select friend or two I was most pressing that he should publish, by subscription, his two celebrated poems of ' The Traveller,' and ' The Deserted tillage,' wilh notes, for he was well aware that I was no stranger to Johnson's having made some little addition to the one, and possibly had suggested some corrections at least for the other: but the real meaning was, to give some great persons an opportunity of delicately conveying pecuniary relief, of which the Doctor at that time was particularly in need. Goldsmith readily gave up to mc his private copies, and said, 'Pray do what you please with them.' But whilst he sat near me, he rather submitted to, than encouraged my zealous proceedings.
I one morning called upon him, however, and found him infinitely better than I expected, and in a kind of exulting style he exclaimed, 'Here are some of the best of my prose writings; I have been hard at work ever since midnight, and I desire you to examine them.' 'These,' said I, 'are excellent indeed.' 'They are,' replied he, ' intended as an introduction to a body of arts and sciences.' 'If so, Dr. Goldsmith, let me most seriously entreat, that as your name