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This Prologue was evidently intended to be spoken by Mr. Yates, but it was forwarded to Mr. Quick; a comic Prologue, by the husband, in the character of a sailor, would have ill suited with the lofty dignity of the first tragic actress; indeed their names rarely appeared in the same play-bill, they were not calculated for the same meridian.
The following note seems to refer to one of his earlier productions; but I retain neither letter nor written document of any kind from him with a date.
'Mr. Goldsmith's best respects to Mr. Cradock, when he asked him to day, he quite forgot an engagement of above a week's standing, which has been made purposely for him; he feels himself quite uneasy at not being permitted to have his instructions upon those parts where he must necessarily be defective. He will have a rehearsal on Monday; when, if Mr. Cradock would come, and afterwards take a bit of mutton-chop, it would add to his other obligations. 'Sunday morning,
'To J. Cradock, Esq. at the Hotel in Pall Mall.'
The first letter I ever received from Dr. Goldsmith was sent to me in Leicestershire, where I had previously altered his Comedy of' She Stoops to Conquer.'
'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 outl1ne of an Epilogue than an Epilogue, which was to be sung by Mrs. Catley, and which she approved. Mrs. Bulkley hearing this, insisted on throwing up her part, unless, according to the custom of the theatre, she were permitted to speak the Epilogue. In this embarrassment, I thought of making a quarrelling Epilogue between Catley and her, debating who should speak the Epilogue, but then Mis. Catley refused, after I had taken the trouble of drawing 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 tiling, 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 1 believe I shall get three tolerable benefits, yet I shall, upon 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,
'P. S. Present my most humble respects to Mrs. Cradock,'
ADDRESS, IN THE CHARACTER OF TONY LUMPKIN.
Well, the Play ended, and my comrades gone,
Bill Bullet now can drive a roaring trade,
Why should not I then in the world appear?
Mother still talks ' of laming, modes reftn'd;'
I'm off—the horses scamper through the streets.
Then Bet herself shall sit at top o' th* 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. Nichols, 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, I 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, ' I 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 cnrftw lolls 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