« AnteriorContinuar »
in a morning as early as I please;' and the refined and delicate lady replies, 'Oh, to be sure; get up, idle creature!' The cry was, 'Goldsmith is envious; but surely it was a little irritating to hear the town ring with applause of Garrick, and see him courted everywhere, and in the height of splendour, whilst he, perhaps, had only to retire impansus to the Temple.
About the tirre that I think Boswell wrote a prologue in compliment to Johnson at Lichfield, a proposal was made for the play of the Beaux Stratagem to be acted there, by a party of friends, in honour of Johnson and Garrick. Mr. Yates offered all assistance from Birmingham, where he was then manager, and, if required, to play Scrub. 'No,' says Goldsmith; 'I should of all things like to try my hand at that character.' Several smiled, thinking perhaps of his assuming such a part, who frequently, with his gold-headed cane, assumed the real character of doctor of physic. However, the thought amused Goldsmith at the time. It was the fashion to say, that Goldsmith's turn was merely for low humour; and that his Vicar, his Moses, and his Tony Lumpkin, were characters now obsolete. However, Goldsmith often retaliated with good effect. Dick Yates at that time was much admired in Old Fondlewife, and Goldsmith said he 'was surprised, in his refined age, to see Lord North and all his family in the stage-box; to be sure, Mr. Yates being admonished not to sing 'The soldier and the sailor' in another refined comedy, was a good sign of delicacy.' I was, however, with Mr. Yates at his house just after he had received this order, and he expressed himself in violent terms against it, insomuch that I doubted whether he would play the part of Ben, unless permitted as for forty years past. At last he complied.
I wrote an epilogue, in the character of Tony Lumpkin, for' She Stoops to Conquer,' and likewise the following song:
Tally-bo! A Song, intended to have been sung by Mr. Quick, in the character of Tony Lumpkin, in Goldsmith's comedy of ' She Stoops to Conquer.'
Mine alone is the age, When all pleasures engage,
That horses and hounds can bestow.; Among the great folks, What their whims and their'jokes,
To learn the soft airs
For ever the fine ladies go;
Compar'd with a goor• Tally-ho 1
They say that in time
If to courts and their balls I would go;
In vain I might cry, Tally-ho I
The epilogue and song were intended for Mr. Quick. He would, if anv one, have carried them both through. The epilogue was tnought too personal, and occasioned some dissension, though not with my friend Goldsmith. That curtailed and printed at the end of the comedy was without either my knowledge or consent. Some of the allusions might be rather trop libre, but it had reference to Foote's Puppetshow, which certainly was not expected to be strictly correct, nor was the character of Tony Lumpkin too refined. No comic prologue was ever more admired than Garrick's to ' Barbarossa but what is a part of it?
1 particularly recollect, that when Goldsmith was near completing his ' Natural History,' he sent to Dr. Percy and me, to state that he wished not to return to town, from Windsor, I think, for a fortnight, if we would only complete a proof that lay upon his table in the Temple. It was concerning birds, and many books lay open that he occasionally consulted for his own materials. We met by appointment, and Dr. Percy, smiling, said, 'Do you know any thing about birds V 'Not an atom, ' was my reoly. * Do you V 'Not I,' says he; 'scarce know a goose from a swan: however,
let us try what we can do.' We set to work, and our task was not very difficult. Some time after the work appeared, we compared notes, but could not either of us recognize our i W11 share.
I come now to the last day but one I passed with poor Goldsmith (see vol. i. p. 234), whose loss (with whatever faults he might have) I shall ever lament whilst ' memory of him holds its seat.' At his breakfast in the Temple, as usual, I offered every aid in my power as to his works; some amendments had been agreed upon in his ' Deserted Village.' Some of the bad lines in the latter I have by me marked. 'As to my " Hermit," that poem, Cradock, cannot be amended.' I knew he had been offered ten pounds for the copy, and it was introduced into the 'Vicar of Wakefield,' to which he applied himself entirely for a fortnight, to pay a journey to Wakefield. 'As my business then lay there, ' said he, 'that was my reason for fixing on Wakefield as the field of action. I never took more pains than in the first volume of my ' Natural History ;' surely that was good, and I was handsomely paid for the whole.
'My "Roman History," Johnson says, is well abridged.' Indeed, I could have added, that Johnson (when Goldsmith was absent), would frequently say, 'Why, sir, whatever that man touches he adorns / for like Garrick, when not present, he considered him as a kind of sacred character. After a general review of papers lying before him, I took leave; when, turning to his study table, he pointed to an article I had procured for him, and said, 'you are kindest to me.' I only replied, 'You mean more rude and saucy than some others.' However, much of the conversation took a more melancholy tone than usual, and I became very uneasy about him.
When I returned to town after his death (see vol. i. p. 236), I had an interview with his nephew, an apothecary in Newman Street, and the two sisters milliners, the Miss Gunns, who resided at a house at the corner of Temple Lane, who were always most attentive to him, and who once said to me most feelingly, ' Oh 1 Sir, sooner persuade him to let us work for him gratis, than suffer him to apply to any other. We are sure that he will pay us if he can.' Circumstanced as he was, I know not what more could have been done for him. It was said he improperly took laudanum; but all was inwardly disturbed. Had the Doctor freely laid open all the debts he had contracted, I am certain that his zealous friends were so numerous, that they would freely have contributed to his relief. I mean here explicitly to assert only, that I believe he died miserably, and that his friends were not entirely aware of his distress.
Where the Doctor thought there was a sincere regard, he was not fastidious, but would listen with attention to the remonstrance of one whom he believed to be his friend; and when he assented to give his name, for a mere trifle, to a new publication, about which he never meant to give himself much trouble, I more than once spoke freely to him.
Goldsmith and I (with great satisfaction I now speak it) never had a serious dispute in our lives; we freely gave and took. He rallied me on my Cambridge pedantry, and I hinted at illegitimate education; for, to speak on my mended judgment, Johnson, he, Garrick, and some others, had convinced me ' that all literature was not confined to our own academical world.' Goldsmith truly said, I was nibbling about elegant phrases, whilst he was obliged to write half a volume. With respect to university education, even Mr. Professor Mainwaring was often provoked at Hurd's fastidious opinions, and it was well that my friend, Mr. Russell, who afterwards possessed two good livings close to my house, did not reside in Leicestershire at an earlier period.
He had lived in all companies whilst officiating for twenty years at Mary-le-bone; and in the highest where the subjects of discussion were old law or antiquities. He spoke in no measured terms of Hurd's refinements..
DA VIES' LIFE OF GARRICK.
Dr. Goldsmith having tried his genius in several modes of writing, in essays, descriptive poetry, and history, was advised to apply himself to that species of composition which is said to have been long the most fruitful in the courts of Parnassus. The writer of plays has been ever supposed to pursue the quickest road to the temple of Plutus.
The Doctor was a perfect heteroclite, an inexplicable existence in creation; such a compound of absurdity, envy, and malice, contrasted with the opposite virtues of kindness, generosity, and benevolence, that he might be said to consist of two distinct souls, and influenced by the agency of a good and bad spirit.
The first knowledge Mr. Garrick had of his abilities was from an attack upon him by Goldsmith, when he was but a very young author, in a book called The Present State of Learning. Amongst other abuses of the times (for the Doctor loved to dwell upon grievances) he took notice of the behaviour of managers to authors. This must surely have proceeded from the most generous principles of reforming what was amiss for the benefit of others, for the Doctor at that time had not the most distant view of commencing dramatic author.
Little did Goldsmith imagine he should one day be obliged to ask a favour from the director of a playhouse: however, when the office of secretary to the Society of Arts and Sciences became vacant, the Doctor was persuaded to offer himself a candidate. He was told that Mr. Garrick was a leading member of that learned body, and his interest and recommendation would be of consequence to enforce his pretensions.
He waited upon the manager, and, in few words, requested his vote and interest. Mr. Garrick could not avoid observing to him, that it was impossible he could lay claim to any recommendation from him, as he had taken pains to deprive himself of his assistance by an unprovoked attack upon his management of the theatre, in his State of Learning. Gold