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was once presented to us by a popular dramatic writer — still, we hope, living - whom we found in the agonies of producing a farce which subsequently set the theatres in a roar.


The Great Cham of Literature and the King. - Scene at Sir Joshua

Reynolds's. – Goldsmith accused of Jealousy: – Negotiations with
Garrick. The Author and the Actor; Their Correspondence.

The comedy of The Good-natured Man was completed by 5 Goldsmith early in 1767, and submitted to the perusal of Johnson, Burke, Reynolds, and others of the literary club, by whom it was heartily approved. Johnson, who was seldom halfway either in censure or applause, pronounced it the best

comedy that had been written since The Provoked Husband 10 and promised to furnish the prologue. This immediately

became an object of great solicitude with Goldsmith, knowing the weight an introduction from the Great Cham of literature would have with the public; but circumstances occurred which

he feared might drive the comedy and the prologue from John15 son's thoughts. The latter was in the habit of visiting the

royal library at the Queen's (Buckingham), House, a noble collection of books, in the formation of which he had assisted the librarian, Mr. Bernard, with his advice. One evening, as

he was seated there by the fire reading, he was surprised by 20 the entrance of the King (George III.), then a young man,

who sought this occasion to have a conversation with him. The conversation was varied and discursive, the King shifting from subject to subject according to his wont. “During the

whole interview,” says Boswell, “ Johnson talked to his Majesty 25 with profound respect, but still in his open, manly manner,

with a sonorous voice, and never in that subdued tone which is commonly used at the levee and in the drawing-room. I found his Majesty wished I should talk,' said he, “and I made

it my business to talk. I find it does a man good to be talked 30 to by his sovereign. In the first place, a man cannot be in a


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passion.'” It would have been well for Johnson's colloquial disputants, could he have often been under such decorous restraint. Profoundly monarchical in his principles, he retired from the interview highly gratified with the conversation of the King and with his gracious behavior. “Sir,” said he to 5 the librarian, “ they may talk of the King as they will, but he is the finest gentleman I have ever seen.”. .“Sir, said he subsequently to Bennet Langton, “his manners are those of as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Louis the Fourteenth or Charles the Second.”

While Johnson's face was still radiant with the reflex of royalty, he was holding forth one day to a listening group at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, who were anxious to hear every particular of this memorable conversation. Among other questions, the King had asked him whether he was writing anything. His 15 reply was, that he thought he had already done his part as a writer. “I should have thought so too,” said the King, “ if you had not written so well.” - No man,” said Johnson, commenting on this speech, “could have made a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a King to pay. It was decisive.” — 20 “ But did you make no reply to this high compliment?” asked one of the company. “No, sir,” replied the profoundly deferential Johnson; "when the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to bandy civilities with my so

sovereign.” During all the time that Johnson was thus holding forth, 25 Goldsmith, who was present, appeared to take no interest in the royal theme, but remained seated on a sofa at a distance, in a moody fit of abstraction; at length recollecting himself, he sprang up, and advancing, exclaimed, with what Boswell calls his usual “ frankness and simplicity,”. “ Well, you ac- 30 quitted yourself in this conversation better than I should have done, for I should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it.” He afterwards explained his seeming inattention by saying that his mind was completely occupied about his play, and by fears lest Johnson, in his present state of 35 royal excitement, would fail to furnish the much-desired prologue.

How natural and truthful is this explanation. Yet Boswell presumes to pronounce Goldsmith's inattention affected, and

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attributes it to jealousy. “It was strongly suspected,” says he, “that he was fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honor Dr. Johnson had lately enjoyed.” It needed the littleness of mind of Boswell to ascribe such pitiful motives to 5 Goldsmith, and to entertain such exaggerated notions of the honor paid to Dr. Johnson.

The Good-natured Man was now ready for performance, but the question was, how to get it upon the stage. The affairs

of Covent Garden, for which it had been intended, were thrown 10 into confusion by the recent death of Rich, the manager.

Drury Lane was under the management of Garrick; but a feud, it will be recollected, existed between him and the poet, from the animadversions of the latter on the mismanagement

of theatrical affairs, and the refusal of the former to give the 15 poet his vote for the secretaryship of the Society of Arts.

Times, however, were changed. Goldsmith, when that feud took place, was an anonymous writer, almost unknown to fame, and of no circulation in society. Now he had become

a literary lion; he was a member of the Literary Club; he was 20 the associate of Johnson, Burke, Topham Beauclerc, and other

magnates, — in a word, he had risen to consequence in the public eye, and of course was of consequence in the eyes of David Garrick. Sir Joshua Reynolds saw the lurking scruples

of pride existing between the author and actor, and think25 ing it a pity that two men of such congenial talents, and who

might be so serviceable to each other, should be kept asunder by a worn-out pique, exerted his friendly offices to bring them together. The meeting took place in Reynolds's house in

Leicester Square. Garrick, however, could not entirely put off 30 the mock majesty of the stage; he meant to be civil, but he was

rather too gracious and condescending. Tom Davies, in his Life of Garrick, gives an amusing picture of the coming together of these punctilious parties. The manager,” says he,

was fully conscious of his (Goldsmith’s) merit, and perhaps 35 more ostentatious of his abilities to serve a dramatic author

than became a man of his prudence; Goldsmith was, on his side, as fully persuaded of his own importance and independent greatness. Mr. Garrick, who had so long been treated with the complimentary language paid to a successful patentee and


admired actor, expected that the writer would esteem the patronage of his play a favor; Goldsmith rejected all ideas of kindness in a bargain that was intended to be of mutual advantage to both parties, and in this he was certainly justifiable; Mr. Garrick could reasonably expect no thanks for the 5 acting a new play, which he would have rejected if he had not been convinced it would have amply rewarded his pains and expense. I believe the manager was willing to accept the play, but he wished to be courted to it; and the Doctor was not disposed to purchase his friendship by the resignation of his sin-10 cerity.” They separated, however, with an understanding on the part of Goldsmith that his play would be acted. The conduct of Garrick subsequently proved evasive, not through any lingerings of past hostility, but from habitual indecision in matters of the kind, and from real scruples of delicacy. He 15 did not think the piece likely to succeed on the stage, and avowed that opinion to Reynolds and Johnson, — but hesitated to say as much to Goldsmith, through fear of wounding his feelings. A further misunderstanding was the result of this want of decision and frankness; repeated interviews and some 20 correspondence took place without bringing matters to a point, and in the meantime the theatrical season passed away.

Goldsmith's pocket, never well supplied, suffered grievously by this delay, and he considered himself entitled to call upon the manager, who still talked of acting the play, to advance 25 him forty pounds upon a note of the younger Newbery. Garrick readily complied, but subsequently suggested certain important alterations in the comedy as indispensable to its success; these were indignantly rejected by the author, but pertinaciously insisted on by the manager. Garrick proposed to leave the 30 matter to the arbitration of Whitehead,o the laureate, who officiated as his “reader” and elbow-critic. Goldsmith was more indignant than ever, and a violent dispute ensued, which was only calmed by the interference of Burke and Reynolds.

Just at this time, order came out of confusion in the affairs 35 of Covent Garden. A pique having risen between Colman and Garrick, in the course of their joint authorship of The Clandestine Marriage, the former had become manager and partproprietor of Covent Garden, and was preparing to open a

powerful competition with his former colleague. On hearing of this, Goldsmith made overtures to Colman; who, without waiting to consult his fellow-proprietors, who were absent, gave instantly a favorable reply. Goldsmith felt the contrast of 5 this warm, encouraging conduct, to the chilling delays and objections of Garrick. He at once abandoned his piece to the discretion of Colman. “ Dear sir,” says he, in a letter dated Temple Garden Court, July 9th, “I am very much obliged to

you for your kind partiality in my favor, and your tenderness 10 in shortening the interval of my expectation. That the play

is liable to many objections I well know, but I am happy that it is in hands the most capable in the world of removing them. If then, dear sir, you will complete your favor by putting the

piece into such a state as it may be acted, or of directing me 15 how to do it, I shall ever retain a sense of your goodness to me.

And indeed, though most probably this be the last I shall ever write, yet I can't help feeling a secret satisfaction that poets for the future are likely to have a protector who declines tak

ing advantage of their dreadful situation — and scorns that 20 importance which may be acquired by trifling with their anxieties."

The next day Goldsmith wrote to Garrick, who was at Litchfield, informing him of his having transferred his piece to

Covent Garden, for which it had been originally written, and 25 by the patentee of which it was claimed, observing, 66 As I

found you had very great difficulties about that piece, I complied with his desire. . . . I am extremely sorry that you should think me warm at our last meeting; your judgment

certainly ought to be free, especially in a matter which must 30 in some measure concern your own credit and interest. I

assure you, sir, I have no disposition to differ with you on this or any other account, but am, with an high opinion of your abilities, and a very real esteem, sir, your most obedient humble servant.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.” 35 In his reply, Garrick observed, “I was, indeed, much hurt

that your warmth at our last meeting mistook my sincere and friendly attention to your play for the remains of a former misunderstanding, which I had as much forgot as if it had never existed. What I said to you at my own house I now

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